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

A Night in Bohemia: Dill Pickle Masked Ball

Among the most popular Dill Pickle Club events were its frequent masquerade balls. These events appealed to a broad range of partygoers, allowing wealthy residents of the Gold Coast to mingle in…

Cover of Buffalo Bill With General Custer

Ingraham, Prentiss, 1843-1904
Prentiss Ingraham, a prolific dime novel writer, worked briefly as an advance agent for Buffalo Bill's show in the 1880s, and wrote hundreds of cheap popular novels about Buffalo Bill.

Industry on the Chicago River

United States Army Corps of Engineers
Sail- and steam-powered ships share the waters the busy port on the Chicago River. The riverfront is dominated by grain elevators and warehouses, and the air appears choked with coal smoke. Quarried…

Emigrant Party on the Road to California

Hearing about the discovery of gold in California, many people headed westward along the Oregon-California Trail.

Farm residences in St. Clair County, Illinois

Representations of the farms of Ernst Dressel and Otto Schott, both in St. Clair County, Illinois, near East St. Louis, suggest subtle variations in the ways in which farmers sought to be represented…

Buffalo Bill's Duel With Yellow Hand

Buffalo Bill interrupted his stage career in 1876 to become an army scout. He took the scalp of a Cheyenne warrior, Yellow Hair, whose name was mistranslated as Yellow Hand. Cody incorporated this…

View of Burlington

A view from the south of the town of Burlington, Iowa. Paddle wheel boats navigate the Mississippi River while others dock at the shore. In the foreground a locomotive crosses the iron bridge…

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