Through the Decades: 1960s

October 14, 1960

In a 2 a.m. campaign speech, then-Senator John F. Kennedy challenges University of Michigan students to contribute two years of their lives to help people in countries of the developing world.

“How many of you who are going to be doctors, are willing to spend your days in Ghana?” Kennedy asked, and then stated, “I think Americans are willing to contribute. But the effort must be far greater than we have ever made in the past.”

March 1, 1961

President Kennedy signs Executive Order 10924, establishing the Peace Corps.

June 1961

Tanganyika I, Colombia I, and Ghana I begin training for Peace Corps service. Peace Corps training activities are conducted at U.S. colleges, universities, and private agencies. Many trainees head to Puerto Rico, the Rocky Mountains, and other locations for field-training activities

August 30, 1961

The first group of Peace Corps Volunteers, Ghana I, arrive at Accra Airport and, shortly afterward, begin their service as teachers.

September 22, 1961

Congress passes the Peace Corps Act, giving it the mandate to “promote world peace and friendship” through a mission statement that the Peace Corps continues to adhere to and promote.

September 1964

National Geographic magazine features Peace Corps Volunteers on its cover.

June 1966

More than 15,000 Volunteers are serving in the field. Historically, this is the highest number of Peace Corps Volunteers serving at one time.