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

Lac Superieur et autres lieux ou sont les missions des peres de la Compagnie de Iesus, comprises sous le nom d'Outaouacs

Dablon, Claude
This map of the upper Great Lakes shows several Jesuit missions as well as American Indian communities.

Attention Workingmen! Achtung Arbeiter!

This bilingual broadside advertised a meeting in Chicago's Haymarket Square in 1886. An explosion near the end of the rally resulted in at least eleven deaths and dozens of injuries. Though the person…

Woman with child in Union Station

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

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…

Boy separating cream at the Rader Farm, Knoxville, Illinois

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company
Children of farm families were expected to help out with farm work from a young age. Here one of the sons of the farmer Scott Rader uses a machine to separate cream from raw milk. Behind him sits a…

The Mississippi and Michigan Canal

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

Fishing Lakes, Qu' Appelle River

Hind, Henry Youle, 1823-1908
Henry Youle Hind, a chemistry and geology professor at Toronto's Trinity College, led an expedition that explored the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in southern Manitoba and the Qu'Appelle River in…

The Switzerland of America

Appearing in a guidebook, "How to Go West," this advertisement celebrated the healthful climate and natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains as "The Switzerland of America."
Four more random images