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

Section of Du Pratz's Map of Louisiana, 1757

The 1757 book _A History of Louisiana_ by Antoine Le Page Du Pratz was among the few books carried with the Lewis & Clark expedition across the North American continent. Du Pratz had lived in…

Inside cover to Great Disclosure of Spiritual Wickedness!!

Packard, Elizabeth
As a result of disagreements over religion and money, Theophilus Packard committed his wife of twenty-one years, Elizabeth Ware Packard, to the Illinois insane asylum in 1860. Three years later,…

Cleaning the “Vistadome” Car

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company
Railroad work in the U.S. was segregated by race well into the 1950s. African Americans held jobs for car cleaners, maids, and porters, but rarely worked as conductors or engineers. Here an African…

Bridge building in Illinois

United States Army Corps of Engineers
With the help of a steam-powered crane, workers place a massive steel beam into a railroad bridge. Steel and concrete bridges allowed for heavier trains and were more durable than the wood and stone…

Canadian Mounted Police

Remington, Frederic, 1861-1909
One in a series of drawings by Frederic Remington depicting different Western types.

UPI Press wire demonstration at the Chicago Sun-Times regarding editorial “Now that the March is Over,” August 29, 1963

While returning to Chicago by train from the 1963 March on Washington, some civil rights activists read a Sun-Times editorial critical of Martin Luther King, Jr., and other leaders. As this newswire…

Homesteads and Pre-Emptions

During the late 19th century the U.S. government aided settlement of farm farmers on the Great Plains by offering land at very low prices to those who would establish farms. As this description of…

Panorama of State Buildings from Northwest, 1893 World's Fair

Jackson, William Henry, 1843-1942
A leading photographer of the American West, Jackson made the official set of views for the Exposition.
Four more random images