Once credit unions had a small foothold in the U.S. they needed a little encouragement to really get going. That’s where attorney Roy Bergengren came into play. He helped establish the nationwide credit union movement. Together with Filene, they organized the Credit Union National Extension Bureau in 1921. Between 1921 and 1935, all but 12 states enacted credit union laws under the bureau’s guidance.
As the Great Depression disrupted millions of Americans lives in the 1930s, those living in rural America were affected the most. On June 26, 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act, which sought to make credit readily available to citizens, and promoted nonprofit, cooperative credit unions. The Bureau of Federal Credit Unions, the predecessor to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) was also formed to oversee federal credit unions.
The onset of World War II marked a major milestone in the history of credit unions, when 12 million war bonds, worth over $5.7 billion in modern dollars, were sold. That was the inflection point when credit unions really started to take off.