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

Cover of Western Life and How I Became a Bronco Buster

Quickfall, Bob Grantham
The book details the author's experiences as he traveled from Liverpool, England, to California to become a bronco buster.

Seven Days of the Life of a Soldier

Thompson, Alexander Ramsay, 1793-1837
Manuscript account by Major Alexander Thompson of a canoe journey from Green Bay to Mackinac Island, between June 1 and June 23, 1831. Accompanied by William Holiday, proprietor of an American Fur…

Composite of Chicago

A view of Chicago showing ships in the harbor. Surrounding the cityscape are images of prominent buildings. The city's motto "Urbs in Horto" is surrounded by symbolic images.

Chicago's Interracial Debating Classic, January 25, 1931

Before the advent of television, lectures and debates provided public entertainment. Social activists used these venues to present their ideas and to educate their constituencies. This flyer promotes…

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…

Lumber on the docks, Chicago

A view of Chicago's lakefront lumber docks. Ships arrived here from ports in the upper Great Lakes and transferred their cargo to waiting rail cars. The lumber appears to be telegraph poles.

Haymarket monument, Chicago

Higbie, Tobias
In 2004 the city of Chicago dedicated a monument to commemorate the anarchist labor leaders arrested in the wake of a bomb explosion in Haymarket Square on May 4, 1886. Behind the monument a giant…

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…
Four more random images