Curator Biography

Heather Bigwood has always been fascinated by history.  Growing up in North Dakota on a farm, her love of reading fostered further study of history.  As a child, her historical explorations influenced her writing where she filled notebooks with fictional stories, including a story about a girl named Rebecca who rode an orphan train. When college came around, she chose to study occupational therapy instead of history because she felt she needed a “practical” job. She worked in this field for two years, treating her elderly patients while listening to and relishing their stories of the past.  These interactions made her recognize her heart was in a history-led career.  

Heather soon went back to school, getting her BA in History at Kansas State University.  There, she rediscovered her love of museums while volunteering in K-State’s Historic Costume and Textile Museum.  Heather served at the museum for two years in various capacities.  Once she graduated, she was hired by Riley County, Kansas to work as a museum assistant at their county historical museum.  She worked there for six months until she was hired by the National Orphan Train Complex as its Curator.  She began her journey with NOTC at the end of January 2024. 

Heather enjoys the daily variety in working with the stories of the Orphan Train Riders. Here, part of her job is to listen, record, preserve, and share those stories for future generations.  She does this by meeting visitors at the museum, creating and adding to Orphan Train Rider files, designing exhibits and giving presentations. 

To contact Heather, email her at