Museums aren’t just for dead things

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Do you ever think you’re a know-it-all about a certain topic? Maybe it’s football or history or fishing or Cards Against Humanity. If you’ve been in the credit union industry for any length of time, you might think you’ve been there, done that, drank the Kool-Aid, and you don’t need to know anything more.

I may or may not have been one of those people. But a recent trip to America’s Credit Union Museum in Manchester, New Hampshire changed all that! Did you know we had a museum? And that museum was the very first credit union in the United States?

Joseph Boivin opened his home to the very first credit union members. It was organized on November 24, 1908, and by 1910 had 400 members with $20,000 in assets. I sat at his desk with all his stuff. Talk about humbling and moving. I can’t even imagine what those first transactions looked like and how it changed the lives of the persons locked out of the mainstream banking system. The credit union served the French-speaking immigrant mill workers. Nice beginnings, huh?

The most striking thing about my time at the museum? Credit unions are timeless. The mission and purpose are exactly the same today. People helping ALL people regardless of “fill in the blank.” Whether big or small, rural or urban, digital or old school, we’re fulfilling the needs of the people who need us most. 1908 to 2023 … not much difference other than delivery and technology.

The museum is filled with so much history … not just old, but current history. And now HerStory. 2022 was the beginning of recognizing women who have made or are making an impact in the credit union industry. We’ve had a lot of bad ass women doing groundbreaking things in credit unions. And now we know their stories because we have a museum capturing, preserving, and highlighting their works.

Are you making history or herstory? Heck yeah, you are! If you want to contribute your story, you can contact the museum to preserve your legacy. I’d love to see (I’m sure the museum would too) representation from all 50 states, districts, and territories so this map will work the way it’s supposed to work!

You can also support the museum through contributions, sponsorships, or by buying a brick in the courtyard. I was there. They have lots of space. Why not design that perfect brick to be memorialized forever and ever?

We are special. We are the least-known coolest movement ever. Step up and tell your story. Preserve your place in the past, present, and future. Keep making that difference for the ones who need us. Keep changing lives, one person at a time, and living that original mission of people helping ALL people.

Linda Bodie

Linda Bodie

Linda Bodie is the CEO + Innovator at Element Federal Credit Union in Charleston, West Virginia. She loves creativity, innovation, and taking the road less traveled because it’s just more ... Web: Details