“Invest in the Future of your Credit Society”

Ben Woods, Assistant Archivist, Australian Mutuals History

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Australian Mutuals History has a small reference collection containing texts on archival practice, published histories of mutuals and among other works there are volumes outlining the principles and practicalities of mutual banking entities in all their forms. A slim little booklet on our shelves written by John Giddens and published in 1963, called “Invest in the Future of your Credit Society” falls into the latter category.

What is unique about it is that while it is a stand-alone document, entirely authored by John Giddens, it was produced and released as the October 1963 edition of the Australian Catholic Truth Society Record. Catholic Truth Societies around the world were developed in order to publish Catholic literature with the Australian operation beginning in 1904 and ceasing in 1986. Mutuals and co-operatives have been encouraged by the Catholic Church over the years and regular readers of our blog will remember our announcement of the publication of the latest book by Race Mathews called “Of Labour and Liberty”, a work that used our collection as a source of information and traces the principles of Distributism promoted by the Catholic Church and inherent in the credit union movement.

It is a cute little pamphlet that begins with a letter from “Tony” asking “Bill” how credit societies work because “Mary and I have decided to buy a TV set, but as you know we cannot afford to pay cash. Your comment about the high interest rates charged by the hire purchase companies has made me wary of entering into a hire purchase agreement. I was wondering if it would be possible for you to tell me more about credit societies and how they work”.

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The rest of the pamphlet goes on to describe how credit societies (or credit unions) work. Headers include “Who Runs the Credit Society?”, “Are Deposits Safe?” and “What the Interest Rates Are”. Being a document published by an explicitly religious organisation, the ethical/spiritual principles underpinning co-operatives from a particular Catholic perspective are emphasised and it is also a very useful and uniquely presented primer on financial co-operatives from the middle of the 20th century.