Pierre Jay, Massachusetts’ first commissioner of banks, drafted the state’s credit union law. He later became the first chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Massachusetts Division of Banks photo

What: Massachusetts Credit Union Act became law
When: April 15, 1909
Where: Beacon Hill

  • As Massachusetts’ first commissioner of banks, Pierre Jay met with Canadian journalist Alphonse Desjardins, a leader in Canada’s credit union movement. Inspired by European cooperative banks, credit unions were intended to address problems immigrants faced in getting loans.  
  • Jay drafted a bill to incorporate credit unions in Massachusetts and worked with Edward A. Filene, a Boston businessman and credit union advocate, to organize support for the proposal. The bill passed in the Massachusetts legislature, becoming the first credit union statute in the U.S. 
  • The first Massachusetts credit union and the first U.S. credit union remain in operation. Lynn-based St. Jean’s Credit Union received the first Massachusetts credit union charter in 1910. The first U.S. credit union had been established on April 6, 1909, in Manchester, New Hampshire: St. Mary’s Cooperative Credit Union Association, later renamed St. Mary’s Bank.

“In Massachusetts … there are two sides of the matter to look at, the deposit side and the loan side. On the deposit side the field seems to be well supplied. The facilities for loans to poor people, however, are not supplied at the present time.” 

— Pierre Jay in a speech to the Roslindale Citizens’ Association on April 11, 1909, as reported by the Boston Globe 

To celebrate its 150th anniversary, Banker & Tradesman is highlighting significant moments in the history of Massachusetts’ real estate and banking industries. To suggest a topic, email editorial@thewarrengroup.com.

This Month in History: Credit Unions Come to Mass.

by Diane McLaughlin time to read: 1 min