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

E.F. Garry to Mr. Lane on Pullman Saving Plan

In the 1920s a growing number of large industrial employers developed welfare, recreation, and representation programs for their employees. This letter, between executives of the Pullman Company,…

Fur trade contract, 1721

Liette, Pierre de, d. 1721
Signed contract, dated June 5, 1721 in Villemarie [Ile de Montréal, Québec], between Gilles Chauvin, Pierre Hubert Lacroix (and by proxy, Jacques Hubert Lacroix), associates of the Compagnies des…

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 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,…

The Mississippi and Michigan Canal

Bross, William
A pamphlet calling on the federal government to fund and build a canal extension in Illinois.

Towards the Dawn!

Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation
A family walks an uphill road toward a rising sun symbolizing the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF).  The Great Depression of the 1930s hit farmers and rural communities particularly hard. …

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…

Sherwood Anderson, “Jack Jones—The Pickler.”

Sherwood Anderson
In this article from the Chicago _Daily News_, the novelist Sherwood Anderson describes the diverse audience at the Dill Pickle Club: "The street car conductor sits on a bench beside the college…
Four more random images