Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen fathered the credit union idea to help impoverished farmers in Flammersfeld in western Germany who were ruined by drought and indebted to unscrupulous moneylenders. Raiffeisen helped organize over 200 credit cooperatives in Europe. He spent the rest of his life promoting the ideas of self-help as the answer to personal finance problems. All credit unions today follow Raiffeisen’s original plan—“not for profit, not for charity, but for service.”
Alphonse Desjardins, a Canadian parliamentary reporter, studied European credit societies and organized the first North American credit union in Levis, Quebec. It was called a "peoples bank" and began with an initial total membership deposit of $26. The first individual savings deposit was a dime.
Edward A. Filene, Boston merchant and philanthropist, is sparked in the credit union movement after a trip to India. He worked Tirelessly to spread the idea in the United States.
Pierre Jay, a Banking Commissioner of Massachusetts who studied Desjardin's work, introduced a bill in Massachusetts to provide incorporation, recognition and legal standing for small savings and loan associations as financial institutions. Though Desjardin testified, his testimony as a foreign citizen carried little weight. The bill passed thanks to testimony from Edward Filene, a wealthy Boston merchant who saw credit societies operate in Calcutta, India. Desjardins organized the first U.S. credit union in a church parish, St. Mary's Parish Bank.
In response to a letter written to state governors by President Howard Taft, Wisconsin enacted credit union legislation.
Edward A/ Filene established the Credit Union National Extension Bureau to seek enactment of credit union laws in all states, promote organization of new credit unions, encourage creation of state credit union organizations and prepare the way for a national association of credit unions. Filene appointed Roy Bergengren, a Massachusetts attorney, the Bureau's executive secretary.
On March 13, the 24th North Dakota Legislative Assembly passed House Bill 86, The North Dakota Credit Union Act, on a vote of 73 ayes, and 30 nays, and with 10 absent and not voting.
The North Dakota Credit Union League is formed in Fargo at a meeting on September 18 at the Chamber Commerce. The next day, E.W. Wolfe from the Fargo Postal Employees Federal Credit Union, was named the first managing director of the league, which is to be headquartered in Fargo.
The North Dakota Union League establishes the North Dakota Central Credit Union.
A case involving field of membership expansion against a North Carolina Credit Union was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court. The Court's decision, which claimed that the NCUA erred in the 1980s by allowing field of membership expansion for federally-chartered credit unions, put credit union membership in jeopardy for millions of members and potential members. Legislators introduced a bill in congress called H.R. 1151 (the Credit Union Membership Access Act), a bill aimed at overturning the court's ruling and preserving people's right to belong to a credit union by preserving rules on field-of-membership expansion. The Bill passed.