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

Report from M. Butler to E.M. Graham, May 11, 1937

The report of an undercover agent to the Pullman Company. Since the late 19th century, the Pullman Company employed African Americans as service workers on its sleeping cars. By the 1920s it was one…

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.

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,…

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.

A Night in Bohemia: Dill Pickle Masked Ball

Among the most popular Dill Pickle Club events were its frequent masquerade balls. These events appealed to a broad range of partygoers, allowing wealthy residents of the Gold Coast to mingle in…

Canada Day 1988 Voyageur Cup

Noel, Lynn
A group of Canadians, some dressed as Voyageurs, carry a large canoe of the type used in the fur trade. Canada Day commemorates the 1867 British North America Act that united all different British…

A White trapper

Remington, Frederic, 1861-1909
Theodore Dodge described the "white trapper" as a romantic historical type in terms similar to Frederick Jackson Turner's story of the frontier: "the first man who discovered the immense extent to…

The Grand Council

Lewis, Henry, 1819-1904
American Indians gather along a river in conference. Artist Henry Lewis sketched and painted scenes along the upper Mississippi River between 1846 and 1848. He compiled them into a panoramic…
Four more random images