Renée Wendinger is from Minnesota and is the youngest of five children. Her mother, Sophia (Kaminsky) Hillesheim, 1917 orphan train rider, was one of the children of the orphan trains taking part in a phenomenal journey from New York City to the Midwest. As an avid historian, Renée has researched the epoch of the largest mass migration of children to occur in American history for decades. Inspired by her mother to reveal the factual story of the children of the orphan trains, her books, Extra! Extra! The Orphan Trains and Newsboys of New York, and Last Train Home: An Orphan Train Story, embrace authoritive research with compelling stories from the people who “made history” aboard the orphan trains of New York.
Orphan Train Riders of New York Organization honorary President.
Recipient of the New York Foundling Award ( 2004 and 2018) presented by OTHSA and the National Orphan Train Complex for preservation of orphan train history.
Recipient of The Founders Award presented by the National Orphan Train Complex for her eminent presentations on the orphan trains and having two published books on the orphan trains.
Original Orphan Train Speaker authenticated by the National Orphan Train Speakers Bureau.
Minnesota Historical Society Winning Essayist awards.
Winner of the National Indie Excellence Award in History for her book Extra! Extra! The Orphan Trains and Newsboys of New York.
Winner of the Moonbeam Children's Book Award in History for her book Charlie's Chalk Stick.
Winner of the Pinnacle Achievement Award in History for her book Last Train Home: An Orphan Train Story
Winning Finalist of the National Indie Excellence Award in History for her book Last Train Home: An Orphan Train Story.
Winning Finalist of the National Indie Excellence Award in children's nonfiction history for her book Charlie's Chalk Stick.
A concentrated graduate level study course has been developed by New York college professors built on Renee Wendinger’s orphan train books alone.
News and Broadcasts: PBS; USA Today; People, O Magazine, CBS New York; WCCO Minnesota; WVOX New York; American Radio Broadcasts, New York City Tours, Good Morning America, Minneapolis Star Tribune; St Paul Pioneer Press; and numerous newspaper chonicles.
Supporters: The Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables) Foundation, Canada; Orphan Train the Muscial New York theatrical production, Patricia Birch; American Girl novelist, Ann Howard Creel; New York historians WVOX radio; Orphan Train Riders of New York Organization, mentor John Graham Tucker, president of Norfleet Press, orphan train authors Clark Kidder and Donna Nordmark Aviles, and countless others too numerous to mention.
Book Highlights: Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty Book Lecture/ Signing; New York Grand Central Terminal 100th Anniversary Celebration Book Lecture/Signing; Stephen Sondheim Theatre Way Off Broadway Book Lecture/Signing; American History Theatre Saint Paul, Minnesota Book Lecture/Signing; Publishers Weekly Book Reviews, New York Foundling Celebrations; New York Children's Aid Society Celebrations; featured orphan train historian in the PBS Emmy Award Winning documentary film West By Orphan Train; to name a few.