Nineteen forty-eight, the year of our credit union’s birth, was a tumultuous time in the world. Much of Europe lay in ruins, its cities bombed, its economies destroyed, its people facing starvation. Here in the United States, we had an abundance of products and raw materials to sell, but few trading partners capable of buying them. President Truman solved that problem with the Marshall Plan, which helped Europe rebuild and laid the foundation for renewed prosperity here at home.
The global uncertainty that year stretched well beyond economics. The Berlin Blockade was underway, Communists had seized power in Czechoslovakia, and here at home, Alger Hiss was charged with handing State Department secrets to the enemy.
In this atmosphere of intense economic and political uncertainty, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Employees Federal Credit Union was born. Created to provide stability and a financial safe haven for those who worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, our credit union received its charter on August 6, 1948.
ORNL itself was only six years old at the time. Known first as X-10, then as Clinton Laboratories, it had carried out the critical but highly secret task of producing and separating plutonium for the atomic bomb that would end World War II. In January 1948, after a period of uncertainty, it was rechristened the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, designated by the Atomic Energy Commission as one of three original National Laboratories.
With the future of the Lab itself in place, it was time to build a financial institution to serve the several thousand workers who would staff the Lab as it transitioned from war- to peacetime research. At our inception, in August 1948, our credit union had a total of ten members.