Introducing Historic Chicago Legal Periodicals

Two limited runs of Chicago legal periodicals were added to the Illinois section of The Advancing Genealogist’s online law library. The publications have value to genealogists and historians, some beyond Illinois.

The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, long known as a resource to Cook County, Illinois, adoption researchers, published a variety of items including land transactions, legal decisions, and court dockets. Before 1963, they sometimes printed an adoptive child’s birth name and a birth mother’s surname in the court dockets section. The information printed was reduced to adoptive parents’ names in 1964. They stopped publishing those in 1971.[1]

The newspaper was first printed in 1854 as the Daily Report of Suits, Judgments, Chattel Mortgages, etc. In 1867, after a sale, the paper was re-titled the Chicago Daily Law Record. The paper was named the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin in 1873. The newspaper is still published. The paper’s existence before the Great Chicago Fire makes it a valuable resource for those seeking evidence of pre-Fire court activity.[2]

When I created my Illinois law pages, I could not find digitized issues of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. There are now issues available dating from 1873 through 1882, including volumes 20–28, inclusive.

The Chicago Legal News has a fascinating history. It was the first U.S. legal publication edited by a woman. Myra (Colby) Bradwell began her newspaper in 1868. Because of her gender, Bradwell was denied admission to the Illinois bar by both the Illinois Supreme Court (1870) and the U.S. Supreme Court (1873). The state finally admitted her in 1890. Her influence is seen in the newspaper’s “Law Relating to Women” column.[3]

Started before the Great Chicago Fire, The Chicago Legal News is of value to those seeking court information, legal news, and commentary, in Illinois and beyond. Title pages proclaim that the contents include “Cases Decided in the Various United States Courts; the Supreme Court of Illinois, and Other States; Head-Notes to Important Cases. In Advance of Their Publication in the Reports of the State Courts; Recent English Cases; Legal Information and General News.”[4]

Issues of The Chicago Legal News in the online law library include an incomplete run from 1869 (Volume 2) through 1886 (Volume 18), 1891 (Volume 23) through 1896 (Volume 28), and 1901 (Volume 33) through 1918 (Volume 50). A few issues are missing in those spans.

A browse of the periodical shows a table of cases, articles, court decisions inside and outside of Illinois, legal notices including probate and chancery matters, deeds, an assessment notice with names of property owners, attorney listings and advertisements, admissions to the state bar (residents from all over Illinois), and more.

Visit the Historic Chicago Legal Periodicals page to research in these newspapers.

[1] “Illinois Adoption History,” White Oak Foundation ( : accessed 20 November 2021).
[2] For the history of name changes: “Chicago Daily Law Bulletin,” Wikipedia ( : accessed 20 November 2021). For current publication: The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, online newspaper, ( : accessed 20 November 2021).
[3] For Bradwell as the first female editor: “The Chicago Legal News, Myra Bradwell and Susan B. Anthony – Pic of the Week,” Blog, In Custodia Legis: Law Librarians of Congress ( : accessed 20 November 2021). For Bradwell’s denial to the bar: “Myra Bradwell,” Wikipedia ( : accessed 20 November 2021). For Bradwell’s denial by the Illinois Supreme Court: “42. In re Bradwell, 55 Ill. 535 (1869),” Online Exhibit, Illinois Secretary of State ( : accessed 20 November 2021), in “100 Most Valuable Documents at the Illinois State Archives: The Online Exhibit.”
[4] Myra Bradwell, editor, The Chicago Legal News: A Journal of Legal Intelligence (Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Legal News Company, 1870), Vol. II, October, 1869, to September, 1870, title page; Digital Images, Hathi Trust ( : accessed 20 November 2021).
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