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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Loyola University Chicago’s Women and Leadership Archives Blog is designed to provide a positive environment for the Loyola community to discuss important issues and ideas. Differences of opinion are encouraged. We invite comments in response to posts and ask that you write in a civil and respectful manner. All comments will be screened for tone and content and must include the first and last name of the author and a valid email address. The appearance of comments on the blog does not imply the University’s endorsement or acceptance of views expressed.Questions? Please contact the WLA at wlarchives@LUC.edu.