Harlington Wood, Jr., of Springfield and Petersburg, Ill., served as a U.S. Circuit Judge for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, 1976-2003. Previously, he was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, 1958-61, and U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Illinois, 1973-76. Wood also served in the U.S. Department of Justice, as Associate Deputy Attorney General, 1969-72, and as Assistant Attorney General, 1972-73.
In his positions in the Department of Justice, Wood was in effect the Department's "point man" for many demonstrations, including the 1971 anti-war May Day protests in Washington, D.C., and the 1972 Democratic and Republican National Conventions in Miami Beach For those events, he facilitated negotiations between protestors and various law enforcement agencies, and coordinated the government's on-scene response. Wood also served as the government's chief negotiator for several incidents involving Native Americans, most notably during the 1973 stand-off at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. While an army of F.B.I agents and U.S. Marshals readied for an attack on the town, Wood refused to authorize the use of force and instead worked to find a nonviolent end to the conflict. The stand-off ended peacefully after seventy-one days, and Wood is widely credited with turning the tide toward a peaceful resolution.
This collection contains papers and memorabilia documenting Wood's decades of governmental service, especially records of his time in the Justice Department. The collection also reflects Wood's involvement in numerous legal and cultural organizations, such as the Illinois Crime Investigating Commission and the Abraham Lincoln Association, and also his work on various committees of the Judicial Conference of the United States. These include the Committee on Court Administration, 1981-84; the Ad Hoc Committee on Cameras in the Courtroom, 1983-84; the Ad Hoc Committee on Automation, 1983; the Committee on the Administrative Office, 1987-91; and the Long Range Planning Committee, 1990-96. In addition, the collection documents Wood's lifelong interests in photography, world travel, law, horses, and history.
A separate series, containing 133 cu.ft. of U.S. Court of Appeals case files, is closed to research until 2024. Copies of Wood's judicial opinions, however, are available in the University of Illinois Law Library [KF112.W5].
Judge Wood donated the collection to the Illinois Historical Survey in 2003-5.