Skip to content

The idea of credit unions began in early 19th century Europe. Wilhelm Raiffeisen established a credit society in Germany in 1849 that depended on the charity of wealthy men for its support. He formed the Heddesdorf Credit Union in 1864 to help German farmers purchase livestock, equipment, seeds and other farming needs.

In 1900, the credit union concept crossed the Atlantic to Quebec where Alphonse Desjardins organized La Caisse Populaire de Levis. Through his work as a court reporter, Desjardins became aware of loan sharks charging outrageous interest. In response, he organized this first credit union in North America to provide affordable credit to working class families. 

Nearly a decade later, Desjardins helped a group of Franco-American Catholics in Manchester, New Hampshire, organize St. Mary’s Cooperative Credit Association. This first credit union in the United States opened its doors in 1909.

It was on June 20, 1940, that the organization we now call First Harvest Credit Union was chartered and established to serve the employees of the former New York Shipbuilding Corporation. The credit union was known in the forties as IUMSWA Federal Credit Union, for the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America.

The name was modernized in 1955 to Shipbuilders Federal Credit Union, giving the credit union its much-desired individual identity. The New York Shipbuilding Corporation closed its doors for good in 1967 and long-time treasurer-manager, George Morhauser, died. Membership declined and the future direction of the credit union was in question.

In 1972, the tide began to turn when the employees of South Jersey Port Corporation were added to the membership, bringing new life to the credit union. In 1973 the name was again changed to South Jersey Maritime Federal Credit Union, reflecting a more open membership. Benjamin T. Griffith became the credit union’s manager in 1974, a position he would hold for over 40 years. Soon after, in 1975, the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) and PATCO employees were added, and the course of the credit union would be altered for good. The name was changed in 1979 to South Jersey Federal Credit Union. In the years that followed, mergers with other credit unions and charter changes brought a large number of new members and employee groups.

In June 2021, the credit union’s name was changed to First Harvest Credit Union. Today, First Harvest Credit Union is a diverse, full-service financial institution serving more than 46,000 members and over 700 employee groups throughout South Jersey. From its original roots in Camden County, the credit union has expanded its presence all the way to the Jersey Shore, and operates eight full-service locations in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, and Gloucester Counties in New Jersey, and Lycoming County in Pennsylvania.

The credit union offers a full suite of saving, spending, borrowing and financial wellness solutions for consumers, institutions and businesses. Whether you are opening your first savings account, financing a home, or investing for retirement, we have the products and services for virtually all your financial needs. As a not-for-profit institution, most profits gained are returned back to our members in the form of:

  • Lower fees
  • Great loan and credit card rates
  • Personalized service
  • Additional educational resources and banking services
  • Nationwide surcharge-free ATM access
  • Discounts beyond the branch
  • Additional deposit coverage
  • And much more!


Our Mission 

Back To Top
Back To Top