Credit unions are relative "newcomers" to the social and economic scene. As an idea, they have only been around since the mid-1880s, and the first U.S. credit union didn't open its doors until 1909. But what a brilliant idea it was … and still is! Cooperative credit filled a real need in a new way. Credit unions could provide access to affordable, short-term credit for members of the working class, small farmers, or tradesmen in a community. And, because the very people who directly benefited had an ownership stake in the financial organization, they were careful to shepherd their investment (and pay back their loans).
Once the idea was planted, it was clear that credit unions — and the benefits they offer — were here to stay.
Below are links to short explanations of key eras in credit union history.