Biography of Ida Minerva Tarbell

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Ida Minerva Tarbell was born in Erie, Pennsylvania on November 5, 1857 (Lowrie). She was the daughter of Esther and Franklin Tarbell (Lowrie). At the age of three, Ida was moved to Titusville, Pennsylvania with her family (Lowrie). Tarbell's mother took a teaching job and her father became an oil producer and refiner in their new town (Lowrie). As King wrote, “her father's business, along with those of many other small businessmen, was adversely affected by the South Improvement Company scheme between the railroads and larger oil interests.” Tarbell stayed in Titusville and finished high school there (Lowrie). She then studied at Allegheny College in 1876, where she graduated in 1880, the only woman in her class (Lowrie). Tarbell began her career as a teacher in Poland, Ohio and after two years, “she realized teaching was too much for her and that she enjoyed writing more” (Lowrie). Tarbell returned to Pennsylvania, where she met Theodore L. Flood, editor of The Chautauquan (Lowrie). She quickly accepted Flood's offer to write for the paper; she said, “I was glad to be useful, for I had grown up with what was called the Chautauqua movement” (Lowrie). In 1886, she became the managing editor (Lowrie). In 1890, Ida wrote articles for many magazines, including McClure's Magazine, and was eventually offered the position of editor for McClure's (King). Her series on Abraham Lincoln ended up being published into a book because the articles doubled the magazine's popularity (King). This gave Tarbell a national reputation as a major writer. Tarbell had always accused the leader of the Standard Oil Company, John D. Rockefeller, of putting her father and many other small oil companies out of business by the use of his ruthless tactics. ... ... middle of paper ... ...arbell certainly fit into the muckraker personae, she disliked the muckraker label (Weinberg). Tarbell wrote the article "Muckraker or Historian," in which she justified her efforts for exposing the oil trust (King). She in no way wanted to stir up society; she simply wanted to show the Standard Oil Company's misuse of power and have it stopped. Ida Tarbell gave a big footprint for women, journalists, and muckrakers alike to fill after her death on January 6, 1944 at the age of 86 (Lowrie). In 2000, Tarbell was induction into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York (Weinberg). On September 14, 2002, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp honoring Tarbell as a famous female journalist (Weinberg). Her legacy is long but forgotten, and her work is considered one of the most lasting impacts on monopolies, journalism, and female empowerment.

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