About Clark Kidder

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Clark-Kidder-at-WI-History-Museum-1024x576.jpg

Mr. Kidder speaking on the Orphan Trains at the Wisconsin Museum of History in 2014. Photo by Kimberly Blanchette.

A viewer of Clark Kidder’s orphan train presentation on Wisconsin Public Television made this comment:

“We want to thank you for the moving presentation on the Orphan Train aired tonight! Once again you have brought viewers an extra fine program! Please pass along our great appreciation to Clark Kidder for his research and his preservation of this history of his grandmother’s courage and perseverance – it beats all fiction! We grew to love Mr. Kidder’s grandmother through his love and also to be thankful for people like Reverend Clarke who gave so much of himself to these children! With appreciation to WPT and to Clark Kidder!” – Ann and Eric

Watch Mr. Kidder’s Presentation on the Orphan Trains at the Wisconsin History museum here

 This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is apg-member-logo-color-small.gifMember of the Association of Professional Genealogists

Clark Kidder resides in southern Wisconsin. Mr. Kidder is considered to be one of the leading authorities on America’s orphan train movement. After discovering his paternal grandmother, Emily (Reese) Kidder, was placed on an orphan train by the New York Children’s Aid Society and sent to the Midwest in 1906, he began researching the subject and his grandmother’s life. He has since authored two books related to the orphan trains, has co-written and co-produced an Emmy-winning documentary West by Orphan Train (based on his book Emily’s Story, which chronicles the life of his Grandmother), has written an award-winning article on the subject for the Wisconsin Magazine of History, and has spoken to libraries, historical and genealogical societies, and various other organizations on the subject for nearly twenty years. While researching his grandmother’s life story he discovered two of his grandmother’s brothers were placed in the New York Juvenile Asylum. During the last two years Mr. Kidder has done extensive research in the records of the Asylum – making him uniquely qualified to conduct research for those who may also have a relative that was once placed in the New York Juvenile Asylum.

He is a freelance writer for International publications, and has authored several books, including Orphan Trains and Their Precious Cargo (1st Ed. Heritage Books, Inc., 2001; 2nd Ed. Createspace, 2017); A Genealogy of the Wood Family (Family Tree Publishers, 2003, and Higginson Book Company, 2007); A Genealogy of the Butts/Butz Family (Higginson Book Company, 2007), Emily’s Story: The Brave Journey of an Orphan Train Rider (Bookmasters, 2007), and A History of the Rural Schools of Rock County, Wisconsin (Createspace, 2014; 6 vols.); Names of Children in the Records of the New York Juvenile Asylum (1853-1923) (Createspace, 2018); The New York Juvenile Asylum: An Index to Its Federal and State Census Records (Createspace, 2018); and A History of the New York Juvenile Asylum and Its Orphan Trains – in six volumes, (KDP, 2021); Marilyn Monroe UnCovers (Quon Editions, 1993); Marilyn Monroe Collectibles: A Comprehensive Guide To The Memorabilia Of An American Legend (Avon Books, 1999); Marilyn Monroe-Cover to Cover, 1st and 2nd edition (Krause Publications, Inc., 2003, 2011); and Marilyn Monroe Memorabilia: Putting a Price on the Priceless Performer (Krause Publications, Inc., 2001). His magazine articles have appeared in History Magazine, the Wisconsin Magazine of History (Winter 2003-4), Family Tree Magazine, National Genealogical Magazine (NGS), Jan-March 2019; Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, “Illinois Bound: The Orphan Trains of the New York Juvenile Asylum,” Vol. 116, Summer/Fall 2023; Fancy Fowl (England), Avicultura (Holland), and Poultry Press.

Kidder has been interviewed by numerous reporters for articles in such newspapers as the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. His television appearances include MSNBC, PAX, WGN, Wisconsin Public Television, and on Iowa  and Illinois Public Television. He has been interviewed on numerous radio shows around the nation, including Wisconsin Public Radio and Iowa Public Radio. Kidder was host of his own television show called Book Talk on JATV, in Janesville, Wisconsin. In addition, he has provided consultation and photographs for documentaries and television shows produced by CBS, and October Films in London, England.

Kidder was the recipient of the 38th Annual Hesseltine Award  for his article titled West by Orphan Train, which appeared in the Winter 2003-2004 issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History

Kidder has co-written and co-produced a film based on his book Emily’s Story: The Brave Journey of an Orphan Train Rider. It was released in 2014 and is titled West by Orphan Train. The film won two national awards in 2015 – a Leadership in History Award from the American Association for State and Local History, and a Clarion Award. On October 3, 2015 it won a Midwest Regional Emmy Award. Here’s a link to the film’s song, Little Birds, written and performed for the documentary by the incredibly talented folk singer, Chad Elliott.

The New York Times writes about his paternal grandmother, Emily, and mentions his book about her life, i.e. Emily’s Story:  The Brave Journey of an Orphan Train Rider. Emily’s Story is available on Amazon.com.

Mr. Kidder received the Charles Loring Brace Award at the June 4, 2016 in Concordia, Kansas during the annual celebration at the National Orphan Train Complex. He was also Keynote Speaker at the event:

Kidder was nominated for and received the 2023 Harry E. Pratt Award for his article in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society titled llinois Bound: The Orphan Trains of the New York Juvenile Asylum,” which appeared in the Summer/Fall 2023 issue.

DVD Cover of the documentary “West by Orphan Train” (2014).
Tickets sold out to the West by Orphan Train premiere at the DeWitt Opera House Theater in DeWitt, Iowa on October 27, 2014.
Clark Kidder (with Director Colleen Bradford Krantz to his left) pose on the set at Iowa Public Television as the station was pledging West by Orphan Train. The photo is of Mr. Kidder’s grandparents, Earl and Emily Kidder. The film was centered around Emily’s life story.
Clark Kidder and Colleen Bradford Krantz accept the Best of Iowa Award for West by Orphan Train at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival in Dubuque, Iowa in 2015.
Mr. Kidder poses with the Audience Choice Award that West by Orphan Train won at the Beloit International Film Festival in Beloit, Wisconsin in 2015.
William Best Hesseltine Award – presented to Clark Kidder for his article “West by Orphan Train,” which appeared in the Winter 2003/2004 issued of the Wisconsin Magazine of History. It was voted favorite article of the year by the magazine’s subscribers.

Mr. Kidder’s article titled “America’s Orphan Trains” is featured in the August/September 2015 issue of History Magazine

The Charles Loring Brace Award – presented to Clark Kidder in 2016.  

Mr. Kidder accepting the the Charles Loring Brace (with hugs and kisses) at the National Orphan Train Complex in 2016.
Mr. Kidder was interviewed by Christine Zak Edwards on Consider This for IPTV just prior to the broadcast of his documentary film, West by Orphan Train, in May 2021. He was joined by his cousin, Jim Kidder.

Mr. Kidder received this Special Recognition Award from the National Orphan Train Complex in June, 2021.

Make a donation to Mr. Kidder to help him continue his work on documenting America’s Orphan Train Movement and indexing old records.