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

McClure Farm, Franklin County, Indiana

This image of a well-established farm in south eastern Indiana is an example of the many county atlases produced in midwestern states during the late 19th century. The accompanying text (readable in…

Title page and annotated flyleaf to Biographical History of Shelby and Audubon Counties, Iowa

In the late nineteenth century publishers compiled histories and biographical dictionaries for counties throughout the Midwest. Residents often paid for their biographies to be included. In this copy…

Canadiska Västern: den Sista Bästa Västern

Canada. Department of Interior.
A young man wipes his brow as if resting from hard work. In the background, symbols of agriculture and industry stretch out toward a distant mountain range. During the early 20th century, the…

Midway Plaisance looking west, 1893 World's Fair

Jackson, William Henry, 1843-1942
The Midway Plaisance offered amusements ranging from a replica "Street in Cairo" to carnival rides. The world's first Ferris Wheel, invented by George W. Ferris, was a popular Midway attraction. The…

I Await the Devil's Coming

MacLane, Mary
Nineteen-year-old Mary MacLane from Butte, Montana, may have been the original flapper. She wrote "I Await the Devil's Coming" and sent it to Chicago's Stone and Kimball Company. When it appeared in…

Foldout map from the Illustrated World's Fair Guide

War Party Coming Home

From a Cheyenne ledger book, probably illustrated between 1877 and 1879, containing drawings by Black Horse and other Cheyenne warrior artists of scenes of warfare, hunting, and courtship. The Black…

Hogan'-Lu'Ta (Red Fish), “Custer as a Comanche”

Hogan'-Lu'Ta (Red Fish)
Undated painting on cardboard with an annotation, "Custer as a Comanche." A similar painting (image #202) depicts "Custer as a White Man."
Four more random images