A Proud History, An Ever-Changing World
The Peace Corps traces its roots and mission to 1960, when then-Sen. John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. From that inspiration grew a federal government agency devoted to world peace and friendship.
Throughout its history, the Peace Corps has adapted and responded to the issues of the times. In an ever-changing world, Peace Corps Volunteers have met new challenges with innovation, creativity, determination, and compassion. From AIDS education to emerging technologies to environmental preservation to new market economies, Peace Corps Volunteers have helped people build better lives for themselves. Their work in villages, towns, and cities around the globe represents a legacy of service that has become a significant part of America’s history and positive image abroad.
This unique heritage continues to inspire and, since 1961, 210,000+ Americans have served in the Peace Corps, working in 139 countries and making a difference every day.
- Peace Corps Interactive Timeline, 1961–2011
- Explore the important dates, images and videos that tell our story from 1961 to the present.
- Decades of Service
- Read about how the Peace Corps has grown and changed throughout the years.
- Past Directors
- Each Peace Corps Director has brought something new to the Peace Corps. Learn about their contributions.
- More than 139 countries served since 1961.
Last updated Jul 16 2012
Fast Facts on Paper
These files are in PDF format and require the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Check out our searchable collection of select electronic Peace Corps historical materials from the Peace Corps archives and contributions from current and returned Peace Corps Volunteers and Staff.
Visit the Digital Library