Myra Willey <I>Colby</I> Bradwell


Myra Willey Colby Bradwell

Manchester, Bennington County, Vermont, USA
Death 14 Feb 1894 (aged 63)
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Burial Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 92728825 View Source
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Daughter of Eben Colby and Abigail Willey Colby and wife of James B. Bradwell whom she married in 1852. She was the founder and editor of "The Legal News at Chicago," and the first woman lawyer admitted to the bar of Illinois.
BRADWELL, Mrs. Myra, lawyer and editor, born in Manchester, Yt., 12th February. 1831. She is a daughter of Eben and Abigail Willey Colby, Her parents removed to New York State in her infancy. When she was twelve years old, Chicago became her home. Her family were well represented in the War of the Revolution, two of her ancestors having been in the battle of Bunker Hill. Myra was educated in Kenosha. Wis., and at the seminary in Elgin, Ill., and afterwards taught school in Memphis, Tenn. In 1852 she was married to James B. Bradwell, whose father was one of the leading pioneers of Illinois. She studied law under the instruction of her husband, and passed a creditable examination. She was the first woman in America to ask for admission to the bar, and it was refused because she was a married woman. She immediately set to work, with the aid of her husband, to have this legal disability removed, and the success of their undertaking is a matter of congratulation for all women. Mrs. Bradwell declared that she should never again apply for admission to the bar, but, to her surprise, she one day received a certificate upon the original application from the court that had refused her years before. Mrs. Bradwell was the first woman who was made a member of the Illinois Bar Association, and also of the Illinois Press Association. The first weekly legal paper published in the Western States was the Chicago "Legal News." established twenty-three years ago by Myra Bradwell, who has always been its manager and editor. The legislature gave her a special charter for the paper, and passed several acts making it evidence in the courts and a valid medium for the publication of legal notices. The law giving to married women their own earnings was drawn by Myra Bradwell, and its passage was secured through her efforts in 1869. Judge Bradwell retired from the bench in order to assist his wife in the large business to which the Legal News Company had grown. The Bradwells made place in their busy lives for much charitable and philanthropic work. During the Civil War they were active helpers among the sick and wounded soldiers, and did good service in the Sanitary Commission. Mrs. Bradwell has been for nearly thirty years a member of the Soldiers' Home Board. She was untiring in her efforts to secure the World's Fair for Chicago, and is one of the Board of Lady Managers and chairman of the committee on law reform of the World's Congress Auxiliary. She is a member of the Chicago Women's Club and of the Illinois Women's Press Association, and is treasurer of the South Evanston Industrial School, of which she was one of the organizers. Four children form her family. Of these, two died in infancy. Thomas and Bessie remain. They are both lawyers. Bessie's husband, Frank A. Helmer, is also an attorney. Notwithstanding her profession and her numerous activities, Mrs. Bradley is a favorite in the society of Chicago.
Contributor: Elisa Rolle (48982101)

Family Members



Husband And Wife
Loughborough, England 4.16.1828
Chicago 11.29.1907

founder of
The Chicago Legal News
Manchester Vt 2.12.1831-Chicago 2.4.1894

Chicago 11.11.1862-Chicago 7.20.1864
Memphis Tenn. 3.20.1854-Chicago 12.9.1861
Chicago 12.26.1856-Chicago 4.29.1922
Chicago 10.20.1858-Battle Creek 1.10.1927



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  • Created by: Saratoga
  • Added: 28 Jun 2012
  • Find a Grave Memorial 92728825
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Myra Willey Colby Bradwell (12 Feb 1831–14 Feb 1894), Find a Grave Memorial ID 92728825, citing Rosehill Cemetery and Mausoleum, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Saratoga (contributor 46965279) .