Ida Tarbell: The Mother Muckraker!

By | March 19, 2019

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(Original Caption) 9/20/1921- Ida M. Tarbell at her desk. She was the investigative journalist and chronicler of American industry, famous for her classic The History of the Standard Oil Company. Source: (

Born in Erie County, Pennsylvania in 1857, Ida Tarbell was the only woman in her college graduating class and one of the first female investigative journalists in America. Her series in McClure’s Magazine led to the downfall of the Standard Oil Company.

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Ida Tarbell, Investigative Journalist. Source: (

Her Younger Years

Ida Tarbell's father worked at an oil refinery in the northwest part of Pennsylvania, which was an area rich in oil. Because of Standard Oil’s monopoly and John D. Rockefeller’s dubious business practices, Ida witnessed her father and others in her community negatively impacted by such business schemes. This, of course, led to her interest in investigative journalism. After Tarbell graduated from college, she began teaching. She only taught for two years before leaving to pursue a writing career.