Self-Help By the People – The History of the Rochdale Pioneers by George Jacob Holyoake
The history of the founding of the Co-operative movement
The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers (est. 1844) formed the basis for the principles on which co-operatives around the world operate to this day. On 21 December 1844, they opened their store with a very meager selection of butter, sugar, flour, oatmeal and a few candles. Within three months, they expanded their selection to include tea and tobacco, and they were soon known for providing high quality, unadulterated goods at a fair prices and honest weights. The profits from the shop were returned to the members as a dividend based on the amount each spent in the shop.