Stern's cartoons taught people what credit unions stand for.
Cartoons can be used to tell a variety of stories. Some show ideas that might otherwise take many words to express. Thus they can be an effective tool for a social movement.
In the early 1900s, Joe Stern loved to draw pictures of people. As a young man, he turned his love of drawing into a job. He drew pictures of people and events for newspapers and magazines and received many awards for his work.
In the mid 1920s Stern was hired by The Bridge, a magazine about credit unions. While they were still fairly new in the U.S., Stern started to draw cartoons that showed people the consumer benefits of credit unions.
Stern’s cartoons were an integral part of getting the credit union movement to where it is today—a vibrant financial services provider serving millions of consumers in the U.S. and internationally.
Financial cooperatives started in Europe
The very first financial cooperatives were formed in Europe to help factory workers who didn't make enough money get everything they needed.
The economic depression in Canada helped the movement of these cooperatives, called “credit unions,” from Europe to Canada. There, starving workers and farmers needed to join together to use their money to buy food, homes, clothes, and to pay for doctors' visits.
In the U.S., the first credit union, La Caisse Populaire, Ste-Marie (The People’s Bank), was established in 1908 in Manchester, N.H.. It continues today in Manchester, and is still a credit union even though it’s named “St. Mary’s Bank.”
Credit unions protect members from economic tough times.
The little man
Stern designed the Little Man Under the Umbrella as the logo for credit unions. Over the years, he drew many other cartoons about credit unions.
Stern's cartoons show the basic ideas that credit unions stand for:
- Stopping usury, or loan sharking. It means putting an end to lending people money at very high interest rates—making them pay back a lot more money than they borrowed.
- Teaching people how to save money and providing a safe, fair place to save. Credit union professionals pride themselves on their commitment to helping members improve their financial health.
- Helping credit unions grow by showing that credit unions can be trusted. When people know their money is insured in credit unions the same way as in banks, they can trust credit unions with their money.
Let's look at some of Stern's cartoons to see what they say about credit unions...