This Month in History: Credit Unions Come to Mass.

Pierre Jay, Massachusetts’ first commissioner of banks, drafted the state’s credit union law. He then became the first president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Photo by Massachusetts Banking Division

What: Massachusetts Credit Union Act Becomes Law
When: April 15, 1909
Or: beacon hill


  • As the first Massachusetts Banking Commissioner, Pierre Jay met Canadian journalist Alphonse Desjardins, a leader of the credit union movement in Canada. Modeled after European cooperative banks, credit unions were intended to solve the problems faced by immigrants in obtaining 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 the Massachusetts Legislature, becoming the first credit union statute in the United States
  • Massachusetts’ first credit union and America’s first credit union remain in operation. Lynn-based St. Jean’s Credit Union received Massachusetts’ first credit union charter in 1910. America’s first credit union was established on April 6, 1909 in Manchester, New Hampshire: St. Mary’s Cooperative Credit Union Association, later renamed St. Bank of Mary.

“In Massachusetts…there are two aspects to look at, the deposit side and the loan side. On the deposit side, the land seems well supplied. Loan facilities for the poor, however, are not provided at present.

— 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 important moments in the history of Massachusetts’ real estate and banking industries. To suggest a topic, email [email protected].

Leslie M. Gill