Blog and History Courtesy Credit Union National Association
The credit union movement began 160 years ago with a simple but radical idea. That with the help of your neighbors, you can improve your financial well-being.
This idea spread across the world, and credit unions flourished, especially during times of economic hardship.
During the Great Depression, scores of ordinary Americans—farmers, teachers, small business owners—found themselves without access to banking services, so they banded together to become their own not-for-profit financial institution. Credit unions opened in record numbers.
During the recent Great Recession, again credit union memberships swelled. Today there are more than 200 million credit union members worldwide—100 million of them in the U.S.
But even after all this time, the bedrock principles of credit unions remain unchanged. Credit unions are still:
People coming together to be their own bank, so no one can deny them a path to prosperity. People pooling their savings to provide each other affordable credit. People helping people.
Join us in celebrating International Credit Union day on Oct. 15, 2015.
HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL CREDIT UNION DAY
• In the 1850s, hard times hit Germany, and people turned to each other for help. They removed small savings from under mattresses and made reasonably priced loans to one another. These early credit unions were the model for all the credit unions that followed: not-for-profit, democratically controlled and community oriented.
• In the 1920s, Edward Filene took cooperative finance to the next level in Boston, as a means of lifting working people out of debt and creating a better life. On January 17, 1927, the Credit Union League of Massachusetts celebrated the first official credit union holiday. January 17th is the birthday of Benjamin Franklin, America’s “Apostle of Thrift,” who credit union founders believed to symbolize the purpose and spirit of credit unions. During this time, the credit union movement was new and spreading. People involved only began to recognize the celebration’s significance and were unable to devote the time required for sufficient planning. Credit Union Day quietly faded away.
• The U.S. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and CUNA Mutual Insurance Society initiated a new national Credit Union Day celebration in 1948. The third Thursday of October was set aside as the national day of observance. This occasion brought members together to promote the credit union philosophy nationally and reflect upon credit union achievements and history. Members raised funds for the movement and paid homage to loyal supporters and pioneers.
• The World Council of Credit Unions, established in 1971, assists credit union movements and supports their development around the world. World Council observed the first International Credit Union (ICU) Day more than 30 years ago, and continues to endorse global celebrations. The credit union movement has grown to more than 200 million members in 101 countries. Celebrate the credit union difference during this year’s ICU Day – October 15, 2015.
Copyright 2015 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.