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Happy Birthday, Nation!

Wow, I felt like Steven Colbert there for a second!

Next week we celebrate our nation’s birthday. As we get ready to spend time with friends and family, put our heads back to admire spectacular fireworks displays, grill burgers and hot dogs, and watch parades (admit it, you still hope somebody throws candy in your lap!), I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the birth of credit unions, in addition to the birth of our nation.

Some of you may think knowing the date the first credit union opened its doors is not as important as knowing when our nation was founded. I might agree (a little), however, had it not been for credit unions, I might not be writing this blog. You see, I work for a company that supports credit unions, and the principals on which credit unions stand. I like my job, I like the people I work with, and as such, I like knowing a little bit about where credit unions came from, and how we ended up with the trade groups and regulators we have today. The dates and names below were taken from the NCUA’s history page on their website (giving credit when credit is due…).

Here’s the timeline from birth to today:

1850 – The first cooperative credit society, known as the people’s bank, was organized in Germany.

1864 – The first credit union (Heddesdorf Credit Union) was formed to help German farmers purchase livestock, equipment, seeds and other farming needs.

1900 – Alphonse Desjardins organized La Caisse Populaire de Levis in Levis, Quebec in order to provide affordable credit to working class families.

1909 – The first credit union in the United States opened its doors in Manchester, New Hampshire, when a group of Franco-American Catholics organized St. Mary’s Cooperative Credit Association.

1909 – The Massachusetts Credit Union Act became law April 15, 1909, which served as a basis for subsequent state credit union laws and the Federal Credit Union Act, which became law 25 years later.

1920 – The Massachusetts Credit Union Association chartered 19 new credit unions

1934 – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act into law, creating a national system to charter and to supervise federal credit unions.

1960 – Credit union membership amounted to more than 6 million individuals belonging to more than 10,000 federal credit unions.

1970 – The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) became an independent federal agency. Congress also created the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) to protect deposits at credit unions.

1977 – Federal legislation allowed U.S. credit unions to offer new services to their members, including share certificates and mortgages.

Fast forward 40 years and here we are, getting ready to celebrate our nation’s 241st birthday, while credit unions became a twinkle their fathers’ eyes 167 years ago, just 74 years after the United States was born.  What a journey.

Enjoy your holiday and stay safe. Happy Birthday, Nation!!!

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