Making History in Central North America

Based on the world-renowned collections of the Newberry Library in Chicago, “Frontier to Heartland” offers access to historical primary sources, scholarly perspectives on the past, and resources to help you use the site.


Essays with a point of view

In words and pictures Perspectives explain how central North America came to be known as a "frontier" and then a "heartland." You can trace the history of the region over 400 years, consider the cultural power of images, or learn how to read historic maps.


Thematic collections of images

Galleries are a quick way to view a range of themes in Frontier to Heartland.  Each gallery presents eight related images and links to the image collection.

Browse Archive

Chicago lakefront

United States Army Corps of Engineers
This image was taken from an elevated position on the west side of Michigan Avenue overlooking Grant Park in Chicago. Docked along the shore are ferries to the World's Fair several miles to the south.…

Letter from Margery Currey to Eunice Tietjens, August 8, 1912

This letter between two women of Chicago's early 20th century literary community, recounts Currey's participation in the Progressive Party convention of 1912. At the time Currey was married to the…

Across the Continent

Currier, Charles, 1818-1887
Frances Palmer, who migrated from her native England to the United States in 1842 at the age of 30, was an artist who created some of the most popular lithographs sold by the Currier and Ives…

The Codfish and the Cattle Princess

Ryerson, Florence
The caption reads: "He didn't know any girls at home who dressed like men and could talk to a fellow in this frank and unconscious fashion."

Portrait of Theodore Roosevelt

Frost, A. B.
Future U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt is pictured here wearing buckskin and carrying a hunting rifle. After the death of his first wife in childbirth, Roosevelt moved to his ranch in the Dakota…

Residence of Ira A. Warren, Emmett Township, Calhoun County, Michigan

Pierce, H. B.
Ira and Susan Warren resided in Calhoun, County, Michigan, near the city of Battle Creek. They likely paid in advance for a copy of the History of Calhoun County, receiving in exchange a biographic…

Towards the Dawn!

Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation
A family walks an uphill road toward a rising sun symbolizing the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF).  The Great Depression of the 1930s hit farmers and rural communities particularly hard. …

United States of America Compiled from the latest & best Authorities

Melish, John, 1771-1822
Like other maps from the early years of the United States, John Melish's 1818 map claimed territory for the new nation. The odd shape of the state of Illinois suggests the mapmaker's limited…
Four more random images