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The American Savings and Loan Industry, 1831–1935


Editor: David L Mason

4 volume set: 1552pp: 234x156mm: 2013
978 1 84893 370 5: £395/$725

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The recent sub-prime mortgage crisis has created a renewed interest in the American savings and loan industry. Modelled on British building societies, savings and loans were cooperative businesses from which their members could borrow long-term mortgages. The popularity of this method of home finance led to the rapid expansion of the industry, and by the end of the nineteenth century more than 5,000 saving and loans were in operation around the country.

Despite the long history of the industry and its relevance to recent events, only limited material has been made available to researchers. This primary resource collection fills a significant gap, providing material from a wide variety of sources including pamphlets, journals, book extracts, proceedings and articles from the trade press. All these documents are annotated and set in their historical context. The four thematic volumes show how lack of regulation in the industry led to previous crises but also how it became an instrument for social reform and increased the opportunities for women and ethnic groups.

The collection will be of interest to those researching financial history, the banking industry and the economic and social history of America.

  • First collection of its kind to focus on the savings and loans industry
  • Includes over seventy rare primary documents from pamphlets, proceedings, books, trade press and journals
  • Texts are organized chronologically across four themed volumes
  • Scholarly apparatus includes volume introductions, headnotes, endnotes, and a substantial general introduction
  • A consolidated index appears in the final volume
Volume 1: Origins and Functions of the Savings and Loan Industry

Charting the saving and loan industry from its inception in the 1830s, this volume includes arange of pamphlets and articles encouraging people to join savings and loans, extolling the merits of borrowing from such institutions and describing the various forms of savings and loan organizations available. Connections to British building societies are explored, as are the differences from other form of savings organizations.

Amos Cummings, Jr, Building and Loan Associations (1854), excerpt; Seymour Dexter, A Treatise on Cooperative Savings and Loan Associations (1894), excerpt; Henry S Rosenthal, Cyclopedia of Building, Loan and Savings Associations (1920), excerpt
Cooperative Building Associations in Massachusetts: Josiah Quincy, Jr, A Plea for the Incorporation of Co-operative Loan and Building Associations (1875), excerpt; Daniel Eldredge, Massachusetts Cooperative Banks or Building Associations (1893), excerpt
Alexander Block, The Essential Characteristics and Differences of American Building and Loan Associations (1928); Charles N Thompson, ‘The Building and Loan Association as an Institution for Savings of the Industrial Classes versus the Savings Bank’ (1893)
Promoting Building Associations: Robert Treat Paine, Jr, Cooperative Savings Banks or Building Associations (1880); F W Bell, Building Associations, How Operated, Advantages, Etc ([1886])
James Clarency, The Value of Building Associations and How to Buy a Home (1902)
Values and Principles: William Franklin, Building Associations of Connecticut and Other States Examined (1856), excerpt; Robert T Corson, ‘Getting Back to First Principles’ (1901); Seymour Dexter, ‘The Future of Building and Loan Associations’ (1902); Charles F Bentley, ‘How Far Can We Safely Drift Away from the Original Conception of the Building Association?’ (1903)
How Size Affects the Mission of Building and Loans: Addison Burk, ‘Fundamental Principles of Building Societies’ (1908); Lewis L Rankin, ‘Foundation Principles for a Good Building and Loan Association’ (1908)

Volume 2: Savings and Loan Organization, Operation and Management

This volume focuses on the day-to-day workings of savings and loans including the evolution of the business procedures and practices used by these institutions. It charts how easy it was to run such an organization, the variety of savings and lending plans available, and the accounting and record keeping systems used.

Henry Williams, The Plain Guide to a Knowledge of the Practical Workings of the Mutual Loan and Fund Association (1854), excerpt; Henry S Rosenthal, Building, Loan and Savings Associations (1911), excerpts
Modernizing Building and Loan Operations: F D Gay, ‘How Can We Better Our Associations?’ (1899); Frank B Finney, ‘A Modern Building Association’ (1907)
Daniel A Tompkins, Building and Loan Associations, the Means for Co-operative Savings by Southern Working People (1904); Charles K Clark, ‘A Review of the Evolution of the Various Premium and Non-Premium Plans’ (1893)
The Serial Plan: Charles R Price, ‘Advantages of the “Serial” Plan of Issuing Stock’ (1894); Joseph H Paist, ‘The Philadelphia Plan’ (1896)
K V Haymaker, ‘An Argument in Favor of the “Permanent” Plan’ (1894); S Rufus Jones, ‘The Dayton Plan’ (1896); R Holtby Meyers, ‘The Guarantee Capital Stock Plan’ (1924)
Operating Manuals: Edmund Wrigley, How to Manage Building Associations (1885); William J Byrne, Manual of Building and Loan Association Procedure (1929); N G White, How to Organize and Operate Mutual Building and Loan Associations (1924)

Volume 3: The ‘Nationals’, the Rise of the Trade Association and Government Regulation

The 1890s were a key period in the history of the industry and saw the appearance of nationwide organizations and the formation of savings and loans as a reformist movement. Mirroring events of a century later, the national societies grew rapidly, made unsound loans and cost millions to their depositors. Traditional savings and loans distanced themselves from this activity, allying themselves as part of a wider movement of social reform. Industry leaders also advocated for greater government control, with a wide range of state laws governing the industry being introduced, followed by the creation of federal regulations in the 1930s.

Promoting the ‘National’ Building and Loans: The People’s Building and Loan Association of Bloomington Ill., The People’s (National) Building and Loan Association of Bloomington, Ill. (1894); James P Fritze, Investment Building and Loan: Reasons Why (1892); The National Building and Loan Association, Plain Answers to Sensible Questions ([c.1890])
Criticisms of the ‘National’ Building and Loans: Ambrose A Winters, ‘A Review of the Growth, Methods, Failures, and Manners of the So-Called National Building and Loan Associations’ (1893); E H Phelps, ‘The Dangers which the So-Called National Building and Loan Associations Threaten to the Future of the Local Building and Loan Association Movement’ (1894); J H Westover, ‘The Difference between National and Local Building Associations’ (1897); Thomas J Fitzmorris, ‘Some Fruits of National Methods’ (1897)
Bird M Robinson, A Paper on Building and Loan Associations (1896)
The Building and Loan Trade Association: Seymour Dexter, ‘President’s Address’ (1893); Herman F Cellarius, ‘The United States League of Local Building and Loan Associations – Its Work and Relation to State Leagues’ (1897)
William Brace, ‘State Interference with the Business of Building Associations; Its Tendencies and Results’ (1900); Horace F Clark, ‘The Extension of State Regulation to the Building and Loan Association’ (1924)
State Building and Loan Laws: Seymour Dexter, ‘Laws of New York’, in Dexter, A Treatise on Cooperative Savings and Loans (1894); Daniel Eldredge, ‘Statutes of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Relating to Co-operative Banks’, in Eldredge, Massachusetts Cooperative Banks or Building Associations History of Their Growth (1893); Edmund Wrigley, ‘Act of Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’, in Wrigley, How to Manage Building Associations, 3rd edn (1885)
[Anon.], ‘Views Pro and Con on the Proposed Federal Home Loan Bank’ (1919); David A Bridewell, The Federal Home Loan Bank Board and its Agencies (1938)

Volume 4: Serving the People: Women, Immigrants, African Americans and the Promotion of Home Ownership

The documents in this volume show how hundreds of savings and loan societies formed to serve specific ethnic groups, allowing immigrant communities to own their own homes and become ‘Americanized’. Many of the members and managers of savings and loan societies were women, able to assume prominent roles in a business setting – not something offered in many other industries. Texts show how industry leaders promoted the social and moral benefits of home ownership, and how membership in savings and loan groups fostered greater opportunity for marginalized communities.

Defining the Role of Women in Building and Loan: Adna H Lightner, ‘Her Cigar Money’ (1893); A Sbarboro, ‘The Beneficent Influence of Woman in Building and Loan Societies’ (1894); L J Wolcott, ‘Woman’s Work in Building and Loan Associations’ (1898); Lydia Cellarius, ‘Women and the Home’ (1925)
Mary B Murrell, ‘Women’s Place in the Building Association Movement’ (1893)
Women as Building and Loan Leaders: Minnie S Phillips, ‘Woman’s Relation to Building and Loan Associations’ (1899); B S Twichell, ‘Ideals, Facts and Figures’ (1901); Nina Donberg, ‘Are Women, Good Financiers?’ (1931)
Albert Shaw, History of Cooperation in the United States (1888), excerpt; James Clarency, ‘The Laboring Man in Building Associations’ (1896)
Immigrants and Building and Loan: Wade H Ellis, ‘The American Home’ (1903); George P Thomas, ‘The Building and Loan Association and the Foreigner’ (1913)
Ethnic Associations: Konrad Ricker, ‘The Opinion of a Foreign-Born Citizen on the American Building and Loan Association’ (1910); Albert Wachowski, ‘The Polish Building and Loan Associations’ (1914); Albert Wachowski, ‘The Democratic Spirit of the Polish People and its Fondness for Democratic Institutions as Our Building and Loan Associations’ (1917)
African Americans and Building and Loan: Henry S Rosenthal, ‘Possibilities of the Building and Loan Movement’ (1915); J H Westover, ‘Building Associations in the South’ (1896)
Minority Owned Associations: F D Wheelock, ‘A Community Asset’ (1921); I M Martin, Negro Managed Building and Loan Associations in Philadelphia (1936)
Building and Loan as a Progressive Era Reform: Robert Treat Paine, Jr, ‘Homes for the People’ (1882); Addison B Burk, ‘The City of Homes and its Building Societies’ (1882)
Reaching the Progressives: Charles Barnard, ‘A Hundred Thousand Homes’ (1876); Erastus Wiman, ‘The Hope of a Home’ (1893); D A Tompkins, ‘Working People’s Homes’ (1903)
Charles E Clark, ‘The American Home, the Safeguard of American Liberties’ (1914)
The Value of Thrift: Michael J Brown, ‘Practical Lessons on the Benefit of Thrift’ (1899); J H Paine, ‘The Building Association as a Place to Borrow Money’ (1899)
Building and Loan and the Community: Denis O’Donaghue, ‘The Building Association: Its Influence on the Community’ (1901); F H VorJohan, ‘The Effects of Building Associations on the Citizen and Society’ (1899); H M Walker, ‘Co-operation’ (1897)
Building and Loan Evangelism: J R Moorehead, ‘Are You Selling the Building and Loan Association to the Public?’ (1920); O B Eaton, ‘The Building and Loan: An Institution for the People’ (1910)
Building and Loan and American Values: F A Chase, ‘Citizenship and Thrift’ (1921); Geo. E McKinnis, ‘Building and Loan Associations a Moral Force’ (1921); Walter F McDowell, ‘The Social Value of the Savings and Loan Association’ (1922)
William L Pieplow, Century Lessons Commemorating One Hundred Years of Building and Loan Associations (1931); Morton Bodfish, The Depression Experience of Savings and Loan Associations in the United States (1935)
Editor: David L Mason, Georgia Gwinnett College

This title is now available to buy from ebrary:

ISBNs: 9781848933705 978-1-84893-370-5 ISBNs: 9781781446034 978-1-78144-603-4

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