Judge Blanche M. Manning was born in December 1934 in Chicago, Illinois. She received her Bachelor of Education from Chicago Teachers College in 1961, a Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School in 1967, a Master of Arts from Roosevelt University in 1972, and a Master of Laws from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1992. Judge Manning attended law school while working as a Chicago Public School teacher. She also taught at Malcolm X Community College and DePaul University College of Law at various points throughout her career. She held many legal positions, including working as an Assistant State's Attorney for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, supervisory trial attorney at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, general attorney at United Airlines, and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.