In 1844 workers and weavers in Rochdale, England created a democratic consumer cooperative. They organized a store and subscribed to shares in order to raise capital to buy goods at less than retail price and sell them to their members at a savings. The underlying principle of all cooperatives is that the society operates solely for the benefit of its members.
In the 1850's and 1860's, Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch and Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen were responsible for creating the first credit unions in Germany. Their work still influences contemporary credit union development.
In the United States, the first chartered credit union was established in Manchester, New Hampshire in 1908 with the help of Alphonse Desjardins. It was named St. Mary's Cooperative Credit Association.  It exists today as St. Mary's Bank Credit Union.
Today there are more than 85 million credit union members of more than 8,600 federally insured credit unions nationwide.
Source:  NCUA