Our History: Tracing Our Common Threads
Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union was founded in 1912 as a small cooperative credit society to encourage frugality and economic self-sufficiency among Lowell, Massachusetts’ tight-knit, Franco-American population. This group had settled in a neighborhood known as Little Canada, an area hard by the city’s mills and in the shadow of St. Jean Baptiste Church. Over the years the credit union has grown steadily and its membership has expanded out from Little Canada, first to the adjoining Lowell area of the Acre, then over the Merrimack River to the Centralville and Pawtucketville neighborhoods, eventually migrating to the surrounding suburbs and beyond. From part-time operations with limited hours and volunteers working out of the church library, it has become a full-service financial institution with branches located throughout the Merrimack Valley and offices located in several high schools. At the end of its first year of operations Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union reported assets of $6,063. It is the third oldest credit union in the country and the second oldest in Massachusetts.
Originally founded by and for the benefit of the Franco-American community and operating through the highly organized parish structure, the credit union has evolved and today is open to individuals and their immediate families who live, work or attend school in the Massachusetts counties of Middlesex and Essex, the Massachusetts municipalities of Fitchburg, Leominster, Harvard, Lunenburg and Lancaster, as well as the neighboring Hillsborough and Rockingham counties of New Hampshire.
Navigating changing community demographics and utilizing evolving technology, and in the face of local, regional and national challenges, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union has prospered, led by an unbroken string of dedicated leaders and supported by an expanding, loyal membership.
Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union’s history is about people who saw an opportunity to utilize their existing social networks and cultural frameworks to create a new institution for the betterment of their individual members and for the larger group. It is about people who relied on each other, investing in a cooperative venture, and in doing so, invested in one another’s future. They invested hope and hard work to ensure intergenerational prosperity. It was an act that was at once cooperative and self-interested. Our founders’ vision continues to exemplify the spirit of community efforts to provide a financial resource for their families, their community and future generations.