Myra Bradwell Biography

Born: 2/12/1831
Birthplace: Manchester, Vt.
Died: 2/14/1894 (Chicago, Ill.)

Myra Bradwell was the youngest of five children born to Eben Colby and Abigail Willey. After graduating from high school, she became a teacher and married James B. Bradwell. In 1855, the couple moved to Chicago and had four children (two died young). While working in her husband's law office, Myra set her sights on becoming a lawyer herself. She was a member of the Northwestern Sanitary Commission, the founder of the Chicago Legal News, and assisted in writing the Illinois Married Women's Property Act of 1861 and the Earnings Act of 1869. After passing the Illinois bar exam in 1869, Myra Bradwell was denied admission, so she took her case to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming she was denied admission because she was a woman. After losing her suit, she continued to run the Chicago Legal News as publisher, manager, and editor in chief. In 1890, she was admitted to the Illinois Bar and earned her license to practice law in 1892. Two years later, at the age of 63, Myra Bradwell died of abdominal cancer.

Bradwell was the first woman lawyer in Illinois.