Ida Tarbell

The Woman Who Brought Down Rockefeller


Ida Tarbell was born on November 5, 1857 in Pennsylvania. She moved to titusville, pennsylvania with her father in 1870. She began her first formal education in high school there and graduated from Allegheny College in 1880 with a bachelor's degree in biology. However, she soon discovered that she could not hope to pursue a career in science because she was a woman.

She taught at Poland Union Seminary in ohio for two years and joined the editorial staff of the magazine The Chautauquan. In 1891, she left the magazine and went to Paris to study the role of women during the French Revolution. During this time, Ida Tarbell met Samuel McClure, who would soon rock the magazine world with his McClure's, a journal with high literary content. Tarbell wrote feature articles on Louis Pasteur and other well-known french figures. After returning home, she also wrote an eight part series on napoleon that was hugely successful, and was later published in 1895 under the title of A Short Life Of Napoleon Bonaparte. She also wrote two books about Abraham Lincoln, which appearedfrom 1895 to 1898 in 22 sections. Later, in 1900 the 22 sections were condensed into two volumes and published under the name of The Life Of Abraham Lincoln.

With his magazine an established sucess, McClure looked for new content in contemporary social issues. driven by the publisher's enthusiasm to expose corporate corruption, Tarbell began an inquiry into the history of John D. Rockefeller's oil interests that resulted in a condemnation of the business. Her work, titled The History of the Standoard Oil Company, ran 19 articles in McClure's, appeared at the same time as Lincoln Steffen's movement, which was known as Muckraking. The muckrakers exposed corruption in many areas of public life, and contributed to the reform movement known as Progressivism.

Tarbell was not entirely objective investigator of the oil industry. In earlier years, her father had lost money when Standard Oil had combined secretly with the railroads to regulate freight costs and put independent oil interests out of business. Despite her prejudice against monopolies and unfair private gain, Tarbell proved a tough researcher, and her work has survived. When they appeared in 1901, the articles had an immediate negative effect on the public's opinion of big business as a whole and helped show the way for the antitrust prosecution of the Standard Oil Company and its demise in 1911.


born: Nov 5 1857

died: Jan 6 1944

Why she was important: She was a big part in taking down the Standard Oil Company

Why the event was important to her: Her father was put into bankrupcy by Standard Oil and she was passionate in exposing corruption in society.

What was her major contribution: She wrote various articles about what standard Oil was doing to small oil businesses.

This event has affected women by showing that a woman can help decide what things are bad and good in society and what things should be kept the same.

The world would be different if this event hadn't happened because Standard Oil would still be around and women wouldn't be as influential in today's society.

This event has affected us because it pulled down a company that was going to make a monopoly and it helped bring out the Sherman Anti-Trust act, which stops monopolies from ever happening.

No Man More Dangerous