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 children of the immigrant poor boarding 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.
Hon. President of Orphan Train Riders of New York Organization.
Recipient of the New York Foundling Award presented by the National Orphan Train Complex for orphan train history preservation.
Recipient of The Founders Award presented by the National Orphan Train Complex.
Minnesota Historical Society winning essayist awards.
Winner of the National Indie Excellence Award in History for Extra! Extra! The Orphan Trains and Newsboys of New York and Last Train Home: An Orphan Train Story, meeting the highest standards of traditional independent publishing.
Finalist of the National Indie Excellence Award in children's nonfiction history for Charlie's Chalk Stick.
Winner of the Pinnacle Achievement Award: Last Train Home: An Orphan Train Story
A concentrated graduate level study course has been developed by New York college professors built on Wendinger’s orphan train books alone.
News and Broadcasts: USA Today; People, O Magazine, CBS New York; WCCO Minnesota; WVOX New York; American Radio Broadcasts, New York City Tours, Good Morning America, and numerous newspaper chonicles.
Supporters: The Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables) Foundation, Canada; Orphan Train the Muscial theatrical director, Patricia Birch; American Girl book novelist, Ann Howard Creel; New York historians WVOX radio; Orphan Train Riders of New York organization, and countless others too numerous to mention.
Book Highlights: Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty Anniversary; 100th Anniversary Celebration New York Grand Central Terminal, Way Off Broadway Stephen Sondheim Theatre, Saint Paul, Minnesota American History Theatre, Publishers Weekly, New York Foundling and New York Children's Aid Society Anniversary Celebrations.