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History of Merritt Credit Bureau


Albert N. Merritt was born in Normal, Illinois.


Graduated from Leland Stanford (now Stanford) University in California.


Entered the University of Chicago as a graduate student and as a thesis for his Ph.D., authors the book "Federal Regulation of Railway Rates". The book was later entered in an essay contest sponsored by Hart, Schaffner and Marx and received a prize of $1,000. It became required reading in economics courses and affected the amendments to the Interstate Commerce Laws which were enacted several years later.


After receiving his Ph.D, and after at short teaching period at Knox College in Galesburg, IL, he left academics and was recommended for a position as the secretary of the Chicago Wholesale Grocers Association. With the entry of the United States into World War I he was asked to go to Washington D.C. to work in the distribution division of the U.S. Food Administration. During this time he wrote his second book, "War Time Control of Distribution of Foods"

In 1926, after the Chicago Wholesale Grocers Association was dissolved, he was given the credit bureau portion to run as a private business. It was at this time that Merritt Credit Bureau was formed, primarily servicing the food and beverage industries. Two of its first publications were "Chattel Mortgage Bulletins" which were printed lists of chattel mortgage filings. Over 70 years later Merritt Credit Bureau, Inc. continues to publish UCC filings and other categories of public records information.

Albert N. Merritt

c. 1946


Thirteen year old David Berman joins Merritt Credit Bureau as an office helper.


With Dave Berman now as his assistant, Albert Merritt forms the "Merritt Credit Bureau Foundation", a not-for-profit organization whose purpose was to lend money to "partly self-supporting students who otherwise might be unable to go to college." The foundation continues to lend money to students in need for the next 30 years.



David M Berman

June 2, 1945

Dave Berman leaves the office to join the army. He served in World War II in Europe, being stationed in England, France and Belgium. Meanwhile, back at home, Merritt Credit Bureau continues to service its customer base with its chattel bulletins and credit bureau interchange.


The post World War II period on into the 60's was a time for change and expansion for Merritt Credit Bureau. With Dave Berman back from the war and Albert Merritt retiring in the early 50's, Merritt moved into several new areas.

Starting in 1957 Dave Berman developed and ran the Steel, Lumber and Plumbing Trades Credit Exchange. This was a service for these industries to track past-due accounts through "aging" information. Accounts receivable aging sheets were sent to Merritt where they were cross-referenced and generated into a report which was sent to member firms.


In 1969 the Secretary of State of Illinois abruptly stopped making UCC information available to credit reporting agencies, including Merritt.

Dave Berman asks Merritt subscribers to write to Secretary of State Paul Powell requesting him to continue making the information available. Hundreds of letters were written by banks and wholesalers and the information was eventually resumed. Below is the letter written to Merritt subscribers and one of the many letters subsequently written to Paul Powell.

Letter to Merritt Credit Bureau customers asking them to write to then-Secretary of State Paul Powell
One of the hundreds of letters written by Merritt customers.


A year of transition. David M. Berman passed away after 60 years of devotion to Merritt Credit Bureau. Shortly after his death, Berman's daughter becomes president of Merritt Credit Bureau, Inc. Two years later, his son joins the staff.

The 90's

With computerization and an expanding economy, began our most dynamic period. The Mechanics Liens Bulletins were introduced in 1990 covering mechanics lien claims recorded in Cook, DuPage and Kane counties. The Legal Records Bulletin, Surrounding Counties was introduced in 1992. Our areas of coverage are continually expanding. The Merritt History Database, dating back to 1991, currently has over 1 million records of public record information. The firm's expansion into bank-related services led to the formation of our State of Illinois UCC database with millions of UCC transactions stored. Our construction industry services, developed in the early '90's, includes full preparation of mechanics liens and notices.

21st Century

Fully digital, fully on-line, we have developed the most agile Business and Lending Information Services and Support in the industry. Our customer focus has not wavered in 98 years. You have been the source of our BLISS.

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