Coming to Illinois in 1854, Henry Clay Whitney opened a law office in Urbana and began making rounds on the Eighth Judicial Circuit. This collection relates to civil litigation handled by Whitney and illustrates routine legal procedures of his day. Many of the items are endorsed by one of the clerks of the Champaign or Vermilion county circuit courts.
There are no documents to or from Abraham Lincoln in the collection, although it contains ten items that were part of cases in which he was involved. Those documents are available in The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition (2000). The Library purchased the collection from a dealer who in turn had acquired it at the King V. Hostick auction in 1985.