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

Milking time at the Rader farm, Knoxville, Illinois

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company
Leroy Rader milks a cow on his family farm near Knoxville, Illinois, 1948. Even in the 20th century, children's work was an important part of successful farming.

Carte des cinq Grands Lacs du Canada

Bellin, Jacques Nicolas, 1703-1772
Created 150 years after the Champlain map (image #269), this map shows that French map-makers had gathered much more information about the interior of North America. By modern standards, however, the…

Grain elevators, Central Illinois

Higbie, Tobias
Two grain elevator facilities west of Champaign, Illinois. On the left, the larger facility is that of The Andersons Grain and Ethanol Group. On the right, the much smaller Rising Farmers Grain…

The Indian Camp

Lewis, Henry, 1819-1904
Artist Henry Lewis sketched and painted scenes along the Mississippi River between 1846 and 1848. He compiled them into a great panoramic painting of the river that was a popular attraction in the…

Karte von Michigan

Farmer, John, 1798-1859
John Farmer became the premier cartographer of Michigan in the early nineteenth century, publishing his first map of the state in 1826. This 1834 map, published in German, indicates the location of a…

Industry on the Chicago River

United States Army Corps of Engineers
Sail- and steam-powered ships share the waters the busy port on the Chicago River. The riverfront is dominated by grain elevators and warehouses, and the air appears choked with coal smoke. Quarried…

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…

Log Cabin meeting houses

P.S. Deuval and Co.
This lithograph shows the succession of buildings that served Presbyterians in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Four more random images