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

ADM soybean mill, Decatur, Illinois, April 2007

Higbie, Tobias
ADM (formerly Archer Daniels Midland) operates over 200 facilities worldwide that process oilseeds, corn, wheat and cocoa. Founded in Minneapolis in 1902, the company expanded rapidly after World War…

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

Hogan'-Lu'Ta (Red Fish)
Painting on paper by the Native American artist Red Fish. The hand written caption, believed to be by Aaron McGaffey Beede who commissioned the work, reads "Custer as a white man/made by Red…

Ontario Heartland

"Photo71" [Flickr member]
A Canadian amateur photographer in 2006 considered this image representative of Ontario's "heartland." This farm is at the northern edge of the Toronto metropolitan area.

Items for Passengers Going Across the Continent

A page from the guidebook "How to Go West" details the prices for passengers and freight traveling across North America in the early 1870s. Sleeping cars were reserved for 1st class passengers only. …

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.

Capitalism, Humanity, Government

Man Ray
Chicago's anarchist community participated in a national and international debate about the nature of state power in modern society. This cover of Emma Goldman's _Mother Earth_ magazine, drawn by the…

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."

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…
Four more random images