Mail-Order Kid: An Orphan Train Rider’s Story

Mail-Order Kid looks at the orphan train movement through the eyes of one small child who yearns to know her "real" mother, survives a tortured childhood, and ultimately, as an adult, comes to terms with her past, her faith, and herself.

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Words: 74,030
Language: English
ISBN: 9780962631733
About Marilyn Coffey

Great Plains writer Marilyn June Coffey has written three books, 600 poems, and dozens of articles and stories. A trained journalist (B.A., University of Nebraska, 1959) and creative writer (M.F.A., Brooklyn College, 1981), she has produced work that includes a popular memoir, a record-setting novel, and a prize-winning poem.
Her poem, "Pricksong," reviewed in the Los Angeles Times Book Review and Newsweek, won a national Pushcart Prize.
Coffey's novel Marcella made literary history. It was the first novel written in English to use female autoeroticism as a main theme. Gloria Steinem called it "an important part of the truth telling by and for women."
The New York Times called Coffey's memoir, Great Plains Patchwork, entertaining and insightful. Atlantic Monthly featured a chapter as its cover story.
Known as a prose stylist, Coffey received a Master Alumnus award for distinction in the field of writing from the University of Nebraska in 1977.
Since 1987, the UN-L Archives has collected Coffey's papers in its Mari Sandoz room.
In 1991, Coffey investigated the orphan train movement, developing three programs for the Nebraska Humanities Council. One became the second most popular of the 232 programs underwritten by NHC and spurred her to write Mail-Order Kid.
Now retired, Coffey taught writing at Boston University, Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and Fort Hays State University in Kansas for thirty-four years, twice earning tenure. She became an interpretive reader/performer, appearing on radio and TV, and before hundreds of groups in twelve states, from Maine to Texas.


Teresa Martin at the Helios club
A sample of "Mail-Order Kid" Teresa Martin's interview at the Tells Helios Club in Hill City, Kansas circa 1990. For more information, visit


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