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History of the Credit Union

Jul 21, 2017

We celebrated the independence of our nation earlier this month on July 4. As we finish out the month celebrating “America’s birthday” and the history of the United States, let’s also take a look at the history of the credit union. For over 100 years, credit unions have provided financial services to U.S. citizens. These credit unions are democratically controlled by their members and are used to encourage thrift, offer financial services, and provide credit at competitive rates. Here’s a timeline outlining over a century of credit union history.


  • 1909: The first credit union is formed by Alphonse Desjardins in New Hampshire.
    • With help from Desjardins and Edward Filene, the first U.S. credit union law is passed in Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Credit Union Act of 1909.
  • 1921: The Credit Union National Extension Bureau (CUNEB) is founded to expand credit union laws to all states and at the federal level.
  • 1934:
    • The Federal Credit Union (FCU) Act, modeled after the 1909 act, is signed into law by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to authorize federally chartered credit unions in all states.
    • The Federal Credit Union Division is placed within the Farm Credit Administration.
  • 1942: Federal credit union supervision is transferred to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
  • 1948: The renamed Bureau of Federal Credit Unions moves to the Federal Security Agency.
  • 1951: The Philadelphia Federal Credit Union (PFCU) is founded to serve the financial needs of Philadelphia municipal employees.
  • 1953: J. Deane Gannon is appointed director of the Bureau of Federal Credit Unions, which moved to the new Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
  • March 10, 1970:
    • NCUA, the National Credit Union Administration, is founded to supervise federal credit unions.
    • The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) is formed to insure credit union deposits.
  • 1970-1979: Assets in credit unions triple.
  • 1977: Credit unions expand their financial services to include mortgage lending and share certificates.
  • 1980s: Credit unions can be more flexible in accepting members and can offer increased services to their members.
  • 1984: The U.S. Postal Service issues a commemorative stamp honoring the 50th anniversary of the FCU Act.
  • 1985: Credit unions insured by the NCUSIF are now backed by the “full faith and credit of the United States Government,” which provides extra security to members.
  • Aug. 7, 1998: President Bill Clinton signs the Credit Union Membership Access Act (CUMAA) of 1998 into law to restore membership flexibility to credit unions.
  • 2009: The 75th anniversary of the FCU Act.
  • July 21, 2010: President Barack Obama signs the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) into law. Section 335 of the Dodd-Frank Act amends the FCU Act to make permanent the standard maximum share insurance amount (SMSIA) of $250,000.

As credit unions continue to grow in the United States, PFCU remains committed to helping ordinary Philadelphians reach their goals to be financially independent. Stop by and check us out!


Erin Ellis
Accredited Financial Counselor ®
Philadelphia Federal Credit Union
National Association of Federal Credit Unions 
PFCU is a proud member of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions
National Credit Union Administration 
Your savings federally insured to at least $250,000 and backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government. National Credit Union Administration, a U.S. Government Agency.
Excess Share Insurance Corporation 
Additional insurance of up to $250,000 on your savings accounts is provided by Excess Share Insurance Corporation, a licensed insurance company.
Equal Housing Lender 
We do Business in accordance with the Federal Fair Housing Law and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

We provide links to external websites for your convenience. Philadelphia Federal Credit Union does not endorse and is not responsible for their content, links, privacy or securities policies.

Please note that the amount of money contained in your investment accounts are considered non-deposit products and therefore, are not NCUA insured, not credit union guaranteed, may lose value, are not guaranteed by any government agency. Since they are not a deposit of the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union, investment accounts do not qualify for Excess Share Insurance (ESI). Securities, Financial Planning and Insurance products are offered through LPL Financial, and its affiliates, Member FINRA, SIPC. LPL Financial and Philadelphia Federal Credit Union are independent entities.