Birth of America's Credit Union Movement

By the beginning of the twentieth century, thousands of immigrants pursuing work and a better life found their way to the mills of the largest textile-manufacturing center in the nation-Manchester, New Hampshire. Although gainfully employed, they were denied the privileges of savings and credit. On a hillside overlooking the mills stood St. Marie's church. As pastor, Monsignor Pierre Hevey knew that many of his parishioners worked in these mills and needed a safe place to save their money and gain access to reasonable credit.

With Counsel and guidance from Canada's credit union movement leader, Alphonse Desjardins, and the commitment of local attorney Joseph Boivin to serve as the first president and house the credit union in his home, Monsignor Hevey and his parishioners established the first credit union in the United States in 1908. Originally called St. Mary's Cooperative Credit Association its name was revised in 1925 to La Caisse Populaire Ste.-Marie, of "Bank of the People", St. Mary's.

From these humble beginnings the movement that promoted thrift and provided access to credit for the working class spread across America. Today there are more than 7,000 credit unions in the U. S. representing 100 million members.