William Best Hesseltine Award 2003-04 Winner Announced
Our readers have chosen: the 38th annual William
Best Hesseltine Award goes to Clark Kidder for his
Volume 87, Winter 2003-04 article, "West by Orphan Train."
Kidder, a freelance writer and author, continues to farm 200 acres in rural Wiscosnin with his wife and two sons. Clark has traced his Kidder roots back to 1320 in Maresfield, Sussex, England. He currently serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors of the Milton House Museum and is Director of the Wisconsin Orphan Train Research Center.
In "West by Orphan Train," Kidder documents his grandmother's experience as an orphan train rider. Emily (Reese) Kidder was one of 2,750 children and impoverished families sent to new homes in Wisconsin from the Children's Aid Society of New York City between 1854 and 1910. Many of the young people on the trains were "placed out" for adoption with unrelated families needing domestic help. Kidder also discusses Thomas Jefferson Cunningham, an orphan train child who went on to serve as mayor of Chippewa Falls and eventually became Wisconsin Secretary of State. Kidder provides resources for finding more information about the 150,000 orphan train riders between 1854 and 1929. Access our online archives of the Wisconsin Magazine of History in order to read the article online.
Established in memory of a past president of the Wisconsin Historical Society and a distinguished University of Wisconsin professor, the William Best Hesseltine Award honors an individual article that appears in a four-issue volume of the Wisconsin Magazine of History. WMH readers have chosen the award winners since 2002.