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

Travelling Hunting Party

Lewis, Henry, 1819-1904
Artist Henry Lewis sketched and painted scenes along the Mississippi River between 1846 and 1848. He compiled them into a great panoramic painting of the river that was a popular attraction in the…

ADM soybean mill, Decatur, Illinois, April 2007

Higbie, Tobias
ADM (formerly Archer Daniels Midland) operates over 200 facilities worldwide that process oilseeds, corn, wheat and cocoa. Founded in Minneapolis in 1902, the company expanded rapidly after World War…

Color satellite photo of the Great Lakes

Leshkevich, G.
In satellite imagery, the Great Lakes dominate the landscape of central North America, uninterrupted by the political boundaries between the U.S. and Canada, or between states and provinces.

Demonstrate for Adequate Cash Relief, Chicago, 1936

Illinois Workers Alliance
American workforce was unemployed. Many struggled alone, feeling isolated and disempowered. In Chicago and other large industrial cities, unemployed councils gave voice to the frustrations of the…

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…

Emigration to the Western Country

Bobbett, Albert, ca. 1824-1888 or 9
An illustration of a caravan of emigrants, men, women, children and animals, traveling westward.

Step High, Stoop Low, Leave Your Dignity Outside: Entrance to the Dill Pickle Club, 18 Tooker Alley

Among Chicago's most unusual contributions to the culture of modern urban life was the Dill Pickle Club, located at 18 Tooker Alley just east of Bughouse Square. Operating as a coffeehouse, art…

Lumber on the docks, Chicago

A view of Chicago's lakefront lumber docks. Ships arrived here from ports in the upper Great Lakes and transferred their cargo to waiting rail cars. The lumber appears to be telegraph poles.
Four more random images