The Civitan Club of Birmingham, Alabama, was formed in 1917 as an independent service organization. The club incorporated on April 15, 1920, and formed Civitan International; within three years, over a hundred clubs were organized around the world.
In January 1927, the first Junior Civitan club was formed, but not chartered, at South Portland High School in Maine. Its membership included boys and girls, even though women were not permitted to join the senior organization until 1974. From 1927 to 1932, several more Junior clubs were organized.
In 1932, the first three official charters were issued to Junior Civitan clubs in Portland, Maine; Bristol, Tennessee; and Rogersville, Alabama. The stronghold of the Junior Civitan movement was in the southeastern United States, but several clubs formed on the West Coast. The first Canadian club was formed in Toronto, Ontario, in 1957, making Junior Civitan truly international. Adult Civitan clubs began taking more and more interest in the youth program during the 1960s, since more than 400 clubs had been chartered. In 1965, the first issue of Countdown, the official magazine for Junior Civitans, was published.
Two years later Junior Civitan had 11 officially recognized districts and the first Governors Training Academy was held. A full-time youth director was added to the international staff in 1969, the same year that the first Junior Civitan International awards were presented.
In 1982, the program expanded into Europe with the chartering of a Norwegian club.