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

Mittal Steel, Riverdale, Illinois

Higbie, Tobias
A modern steel "minimill" about 30 miles south of downtown Chicago. A U.S. flag appears prominently on one side of the mill. Situated on the Calumet River, this facility was built by Acme Steel in…

The Season in Full Swing at the Dill Pickles

An advertisement for a week of events at Chicago's Dill Pickle Club suggests the eclectic mix of radicalism and ribaldry typical of the club. During the fall of 1930 Mae West's melodrama "Sex" played…

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…

Chicago Magazine, The West As It Is

This magazine cover shows an American Indian watching a locomotive pulling into Chicago as the sun rises over Lake Michigan.

Heartland Community Church, Decatur, Illinois

Higbie, Tobias
The Heartland Community Church in Decatur, Illinois, is across the street from a mill belonging to the Archer Daniels Midland Company, a major agricultural processing company.

Chicago's Interracial Debating Classic, January 25, 1931

Before the advent of television, lectures and debates provided public entertainment. Social activists used these venues to present their ideas and to educate their constituencies. This flyer promotes…

St. Patrick's Costume Ball

This flyer from Chicago's Dill Pickle Club announces a costume ball on St. Patrick's Day, 1925. Oral histories suggest that masquerade balls at this and other clubs were an important part of the…

Farm scene near Scotts Bluff, Nebraska

Bubley, Esther
A farmer riding a tractor tills a field in western Nebraska. Small gasoline powered tractors like this one transformed farm work during the middle of the 20th century.
Four more random images