The public policy role of credit union cooperatives (Part 1)

Most credit union observers agree that the emergence of financial cooperatives was one outgrowth of the reform movements affecting many areas of American society at the beginning of the 20th century.

Across America, factory workers, farmers, women suffragettes, and city social workers had organized numerous initiatives and political efforts to resolve emerging problems. These initiatives responded to individual abuses and inequalities that became exacerbated during this era of monopoly capitalism converting a largely agrarian economy to an industrial one.

Credit unions were one of many attempts to meet the basic financial needs of ordinary people who had no access to fair financial services of any kind. This experiment begun with St. Mary’s Bank in 1909, then slowly evolved state by state over twenty-five years. These various examples became the proof of concept that resulted in the passage of the Federal Credit Union Act in 1934 as part of FDR’s new deal initiatives.


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