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

Sexual Reform on a Scientific Basis

Hirschfield, Magnus
Cover of the literary magazine _Earth_ published in Wheaton, Illinois. Magnus Hirschfeld, an openly gay German physician, was a long-time advocate of human rights for sexual minorities. The article…

Advertisement for Buffalo Bill's Wild West

One of many posters advertising William Cody's Wild West Show as a re-enactment of Euro-American conflict with American Indians.

Le Cours du Missisipi

Fer, Nicolas de, 1646-1720
Nicholas De Fer, geographer to the king of France, prepared this map for the _Compagnie d'Occident_ (Company of the West) to promote the development of a French colony in the Mississippi Valley.

Boy separating cream at the Rader Farm, Knoxville, Illinois

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company
Children of farm families were expected to help out with farm work from a young age. Here one of the sons of the farmer Scott Rader uses a machine to separate cream from raw milk. Behind him sits a…

Railroad employee reading strike news, Burlington, Iowa

Strikes and government intervention were in the headlines in 1948 as American workers and their unions exerted newly won power to win higher wages. Although this photograph was taken as part of an…

Nauvoe, Illinois

Lewis, Henry, 1819-1904
Mormons fleeing persecution in New York State and then Missouri settled in Nauvoo after 1832, building it up to one of the largest cities in Illinois by the mid-1840s. In 1846 other Illinois residents…

Lac Superieur et autres lieux ou sont les missions des peres de la Compagnie de Iesus, comprises sous le nom d'Outaouacs

Dablon, Claude
This map of the upper Great Lakes shows several Jesuit missions as well as American Indian communities.

Michigan Central Railroad Niagara Falls Route

The Michigan Central Railroad knit together an international Great Lakes region, connecting upper and lower Michigan to Chicago, Ontario, New York, and Boston. At Niagara Falls the Michigan Central…
Four more random images