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

William Jennings Bryan

Born in Illinois, William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) made his political career in Nebraska. Known as the Great Commoner, he ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for U.S. President three times. As the…

Karte von Michigan

Farmer, John, 1798-1859
John Farmer became the premier cartographer of Michigan in the early nineteenth century, publishing his first map of the state in 1826. This 1834 map, published in German, indicates the location of a…

Cover of “Wild West Galop for Piano”

D. Emerson
William Cody's Wild West Shows inspired this piece of piano music from the late 1880s.

Book binding from Henry Howe's The Great West

The binding of this volume depicts a frontiersman clearing land in the center, a family traveling by covered wagon at the top, and a farmer harvesting grain at the bottom. Together the three scenes…

Major General Frederick Middleton

Major General Frederick Middleton led the Canadian forces against the Northwest Rebellion led by Louis Riel. Middleton was a long-serving officer in the British imperial armed forces. He he served…

Ontario Heartland

"Photo71" [Flickr member]
A Canadian amateur photographer in 2006 considered this image representative of Ontario's "heartland." This farm is at the northern edge of the Toronto metropolitan area.

United States Cavalryman

Remington, Frederic, 1861-1909
Dodge wrote of Remington's illustration: "When in the field the cavalryman is allowed some latitude in suiting his dress to his own ideas of comfort, while kept within certain regulation bounds. It…

Scott Rader Farm near Knoxville, Illinois

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company
Scott Rader's four children walk behind a small herd of cattle.
Four more random images