HerStory Myra Colby Bradwell

Keywords: Mancos Times,

Myra Colby Bradwell was born in Manchester, Vermont on Feb. 12 1831. She became a lawyer and crusader for legal reform. Her early formal education was in schools in Kenosha, Wisconsin and Elgin. Myra taught school for a few years before she married James Bradwell who was a lawyer. They had three children and James began to tutor in law early in their marriage and helped her to publish the very successful Chicago Legal News which was an important legal publication. In 1869 she helped to organize Chicago's first woman suffrage convention and she and her husband, James, were active in the founding of the American Woman Suffrage Association in Cleveland.

She drafted, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Livermore and others and secured the passage of a bill in 1869 that gave married women the right to retain their own wages and protected the rights of widows. Later she supported her husband's efforts to secure legislation making women eligible to serve in school offices and as notaries public and to be equal guardians of their children.

In 1869 she passed her bar exam in Illinois but was denied admission because she was a woman. Taking the case to the Supreme Court she lost there as well. The court stated that it was a matter for states' jurisdiction. Finally, when she was fifty nine, twenty one years after passing the bar exam, Illinois gave her a license to practice law in her state, and in 1871 she was admitted to practice law before the Supreme Court of the United States.

The American Law Review wrote that she "was one of the most remarkable women of her generation."