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

Woman with child in Union Station

Esther Bubley
A woman and child sit in the waiting room of Chicago's Union Station, 1948.

Chicago American Indian Conference, 1961

Weil, F. Peter
In 1961, a week-long gathering at the University of Chicago attracted hundreds of Indian people from across the country. The Chicago American Indian Conference resulted in a _Declaration of Indian…

Child of the Dead and Forgotten Gods

Wright, Richard
Born on a Mississippi plantation in 1908, Richard Wright moved to Chicago in 1927. While working in the Post Office he joined the Communist Party's cultural organization, the John Reed Club in order…

Main Gate to Works, Pullman

Workers leave the Pullman Palace Car Works, 1893. This picture appeared in a promotional booklet celebrating the paternalistic labor policies of George Pullman. A year later Pullman's workers were at…

Lumber docks, Chicago River

United States Army Corps of Engineers
Children watch the photographer as a tugboat pulls a ship through the Chicago River. To the left workers unload lumber from a ship.

Residence of Ira A. Warren, Emmett Township, Calhoun County, Michigan

Pierce, H. B.
Ira and Susan Warren resided in Calhoun, County, Michigan, near the city of Battle Creek. They likely paid in advance for a copy of the History of Calhoun County, receiving in exchange a biographic…

Cover of Clason's Touring Atlas of the United States and Canada

Clason Map Company
Clason's Touring Atlas of the United States and Canada featured maps, tourist attractions, and "the best routes to the wonders of America." The Clason Map Co. also produced "Clason's Green Guides"…

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