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

Speech of John Hossack on the Fugitive Slave Law

Hossack, John
The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 required the federal government to assist with retrieving runaway slaves even in free states like Illinois. In an act of civil disobedience, businessman John Hossack and…

A Squad of Genuine Cuban Insurgents

Courier Litho. Co., Buffalo, N.Y.
When the United States declared war on Spain in 1898 it was in part to support the independence movement in Cuba. For William Cody, the good-versus-evil struggle in Cuba mirrored the dramas of…

Children walking on railroad tracks near Knoxville, Illinois

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company
In 1948 the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad hired two photographers to document work at the company and life in the communities it served. A series of pictures featured life on the Rader…

Cover to What Every Girl Should Know

Sanger, Margaret
The pamphlet What Every Girl Should Know is a compilation of Sanger's early articles on birth control. Sanger had been prosecuted for transmitting "obscene" materials through the mail. By the 1920s,…

Liberty Line

Reproduced in a 1904 history of the Underground Railroad, this advertisement from an abolitionist periodical of 1844 offers free travel to Canada for those "who may wish to improve their health and…

Annie Oakley

Fox, Richard, K.
The sharpshooter Annie Oakley (1860-1926) was born Phoebe Ann Moses to a poor Ohio farming family. To feed and support her family she learned to trap and shoot, and later performed shooting tricks on…

The Switzerland of America

Appearing in a guidebook, "How to Go West," this advertisement celebrated the healthful climate and natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains as "The Switzerland of America."

Industry along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan

United States Army Corps of Engineers
A view of the lumber docks and rail yard at the mouth of the Chicago River. The city's skyline is visible in the distance, partially obscured by smoke.
Four more random images