by Chip Filson, Just a Member blog
BETHESDA, MD – Documents from one of the most “pivotal” periods in U.S. credit union history are now being sought, with CUs, their employees and former employees being asked to check their records and provide whatever they can before these essential documents are lost forever.
That pivotal period—1981 to 1985—was the inauguration of deregulation, and it permanently changed credit unions in the United States.
The records are being sought by Chip Filson, who was with the Illinois state regulator and then NCUA during this period.
“In those years, dedicated weekly newsletters covering the industry, cassette recordings of speeches at conferences and video recordings, such as NCUA’s Video Network, were the dominant media,” said Filson. “However, most of these critical sources are unavailable from official sources, public libraries or archives. These records include weekly and monthly league, national and private newsletters tracking events, keynote conference speeches by credit union leaders, and even official NCUA records.”
Examples of this dedicated coverage include NCUA Watch, the CUIS newsletter, and Report on Credit Unions, Filson added.
Where to Start Looking
Filson said he believes many credit union leaders of the era would have kept binders of these newsletters and collections of recordings of educational references, some of which would have been taken when the holders reached retirement and perhaps are now stored in boxes in basements, attics or garages.
Filson added he is seeking the materials to provide a “broader perspective” of credit union reactions to this critical era of credit union expansion. “These sources are essential to provide contemporary views of events and to create a thorough record of the credit union story,” Filson said.
One Example That Would Otherwise Be Lost
As an example, Filson cited this partial interchange between NCUA General Counsel Sebastian and Chairman Rosenthal’s government oversight hearing about the failure of Penn Square Bank on July 16, 1982. It Is currently only available because of the Congressional Record:
Chair Rosenthal: From this point forward, you (NCUA) are going to do business the same way you have done in the past?
If some advisory service lists a bank and the doors are open, your people are going to go in there and deposit their money?
Sebastian: I would say that is true.
Rosenthal: You are living in a never-never land . . .
Sebastian: The position of our agency has been that the business decisions of the credit unions rest with the management or the board. . . and not with our agency.
Seeking to Review Records
Filson noted that exchange became even testier, but is an example of an important moment in the story of deregulation that would be lost if not for the Record.
“If retired leaders or their family members know of any material from this era, I would be glad to review it with you for filling in the historical record,” Filson stated. “Any regulatory reports, newsletters, articles or recordings could be invaluable. Without a knowledge of the past, we cannot understand how we arrived at the present, nor have perspective for the future.”
Filson is urging credit union leaders, past and present, to look through unopened stored boxes in houses, offices and elsewhere and to contact him to help fill the “missing gaps.”
“I know there are important treasures out there if we will just take a look,” he concluded.
About Just a Member
With over 500 daily readers of the blog at chipfilson.com, Chip Filson looks at current credit union events from the standpoint of the member-owner, which includes giving thought to how data and cooperative design inform the activities of today’s leaders.
Filson has more than 40 years of experience working with credit unions. From 1977 through May 1985 he was first the Supervisor of Credit unions for Illinois, then Director of NCUA’s Office of Programs and CLF President. In 1985, Filson cofounded Callahan & Associates with Ed Callahan and Bucky Sebastian and retired in 2018.
Filson can be contacted at Chipfilson@gmail.com.
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