Riley, Corinne Boyd (1893–1979)

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Riley, Corinne Boyd (1893–1979)

American U.S. congressional representative. Born Corinne Boyd on July 4, 1893, in Piedmont, Greenville County, South Carolina; died on April 12, 1979, in Sumter, South Carolina; graduated from Converse College, Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1915; married John Jacob Riley (1895–1962, a U.S. congressional representative).

Taught in secondary schools in South Carolina (1915–37); served as field representative, South Carolina State Text Book Commission (1938–42); was associated with Civilian Personnel Office, Shaw Air Force Base, Sumter, South Carolina (1942–44); elected as a Democrat to the 87th Congress, by special election (1962).

Corinne Riley was born Corinne Boyd in Piedmont, Greenville County, South Carolina, in 1893. She attended public schools and graduated from Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in 1915. Riley then became a teacher, enjoying a career in South Carolina's secondary schools until 1937. A field representative for the South Carolina State Text Book Commission until not long after the United States entered World War II, Riley spent most of the war working with the Civilian Personnel Office at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina.

Riley married a fellow South Carolinian, John Jacob Riley, a World War I veteran who served in the House of Representatives from 1945 to 1949 and again from 1951. After her husband's death on New Year's Day, 1962, Riley was urged by both the Democratic and Republican committees from South Carolina to run for the remainder of his term representing the Second Congressional District. Riley was reluctant at first, but agreed to run before the end of January, defeating Martha T. Fitzgerald —an 11-term member of the South Carolina House of Representatives—in the primary. She was elected unopposed as a Democrat to the 87th Congress by a special election, promising to pursue her husband's conservative agenda.

Assigned a seat on the Committee on Science and Astronautics, Riley introduced a bill authorizing the General Services Administration to transfer surplus property to the Aiken Historical Society in South Carolina, for use as a historical monument. Aiming to benefit an educational television station in her district, Riley also used her short time in Congress to support legislation requiring both ultra- and high-frequency channels on all television sets. Riley served from April 1962 until January 1963, and did not seek reelection to the 88th Congress. After her public service ended, Riley continued to reside in Sumter, South Carolina, where she died in 1979.


Office of the Historian. Women In Congress, 1917–1990. Commission on the Bicentenary of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1991.

Paula Morris , D.Phil., Brooklyn, New York

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