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Cooperative Credit Unions: An International Volunteer Movement

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Most people know about credit unions but consider them simply as alternate banking systems. In fact, credit unions are volunteer-run cooperative credit agencies that combine idealism and practicality. In this Voices from the Past, we learn about this rarely discussed corner of the volunteer world. We explore the origins of credit unions in Europe and Canada in the 19th century and trace their evolution into the institutions that operate today and handle a significant part of installment credit in the United States and elsewhere. We review why credit unions speak of themselves as a “movement” and why credit unions openly use the vocabulary of members and volunteers.