Collection Highlight: Corinne Wood Papers

In 2018, the Women and Leadership Archives’ (WLA) political collections grew with a donation from Corinne Wood, Illinois’s first female Lieutenant Governor. The collection covers Wood’s time as Lieutenant Governor 1996-2003, her time as a state representative, as well as her political campaigns. Along with papers documenting her work and life, Wood gave the WLA a large collection of memorabilia including awards, plaques, and items gifted to her from people all over Illinois.  

Sadly, Wood passed away earlier this year.  The WLA is honored to care for these papers and looks forward to sharing the collection with researchers who want to learn about the career of a groundbreaking politician.

Read on to learn Corrinne Wood’s story and get a sneak peek at a few of the items in her collection.

Corinne Gioseke was born May 28, 1954. She grew up in Barrington, Illinois, where her friends and neighbors knew her by her nickname, “Corky”. Wood graduated from Loyola University Law School in 1979 and practiced law in Chicago for over 20 years, specializing in legislative law. 

Wood was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1996 at the age of 42. Notably, Wood sponsored more bills signed into law than any other freshman State Representative.  While still serving in her first term, gubernatorial candidate George Ryan chose Wood to be his running mate on the 1999 Republican ticket. Wood was considered a social moderate and a supporter of women’s rights, who Ryan hoped would soften his image and help him get elected. On January 11, 1999, Wood was inaugurated as the first female Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, the second highest ranking state office. 

Coaster from Corinne Woods Lieutenant Governor Office, 2000

Aside from assuming the role of Governor in the event of an emergency, the responsibilities of the Lieutenant Governor are not well defined.  Wood was eager to lead important initiatives assigned to her by the governor and others she started based on issues she was passionate about.  She was head of the Illinois Main Street Program, which promoted economic development in communities throughout the state. Wood introduced Scott’s Law, or the Move Over Law, which requires drivers to reduce their speed and change lanes when passing emergency vehicles with their flashing lights on.  

Corinne Wood visited cities throughout Illinois as head of the Main Street program and other initiatives. Her collection includes several keys like this one from Pontiac, Illinois.
Lieutenant Governor Corinne Wood was chairman of the Rivers of Illinois Coordinating Council.

In early 1997, just before being chosen to run for Lieutenant Governor, Wood was diagnosed with breast cancer and began intensive treatment. Her experience with the disease led to her focus on women’s health issues during her time in office. Governor George Ryan named Wood to lead the “Women’s Health Illinois” initiative to improve women’s health education and services. Early in her term, Wood launched a campaign to increase funding for the state’s breast cancer research fund. The campaign called “A Check for a Cure,” encouraged people to donate to the research fund by checking a box on their income tax form. Contributions to the breast cancer research fund doubled in the campaign’s first year. 

News clipping from Chicago Tribune about Woods campaign for Governor of Illinois. September 10, 2001.

Corruption scandals led Governor George Ryan to not run for reelection. Corinne Wood ran for Governor of Illinois in the 2002 election and came in third in the primary. 

Wood continued to serve communities in Illinois and beyond by joining various boards such as the board of directors for CHANGE Illinois, an organization working for more ethical and efficient governments and elections. She was also vice president of the board of the Cancer Treatment Research Foundation. 

Framed Caricature of Corinne Wood, 2001.

You can learn more about Corinne Wood and her collection in this preliminary finding aid. Or, make an appointment to visit the WLA and see the collection in person! 

Caroline is a Project Archivist at the Women and Leadership Archives. She is a resident of Logan Square is always looking for strong coffee and good donuts.

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About Women and Leadership Archives

Established in 1994, the Women and Leadership Archives (WLA) collects, preserves, and makes available permanently valuable records of women and women’s organizations, which document women’s lives, roles, and contributions. The WLA grew out of the need to care for the records of Mundelein College and expanded to collect papers of women leaders and women’s organizations. Collection strengths include the subject areas of activism and women’s issues; authors; education; environmental issues; public service; social justice; women religious; and the fine, performance, and visual arts. The WLA is part of the Gannon Center and Loyola University Libraries and serves a wide variety of users, ranging from students and scholars to the general public. The WLA makes records available at the Archives in Loyola’s Piper Hall, offers remote reference services, presents programs, and provides online resources. Staff include a Director, Assistant Archivist, and graduate assistants from Loyola’s Public History Program.

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