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Ida Tarbell was an American journalist best known for her pioneering investigative reporting that led to the breakup of the Standard Oil Company’s monopoly.
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Ida Tarbell was an American journalist born on November 5, 1857, in Erie County, Pennsylvania. She was the only woman in her graduating class at Allegheny College in 1880. The McClure’s magazine journalist was an investigative reporting pioneer; Tarbell exposed unfair practices of the Standard Oil Company, leading to a U.S. Supreme Court decision to break its monopoly. She died January 6, 1944.
Journalist, writer, social reformer. Born on November 5, 1857, in Erie County, Pennsylvania. Known largely for her articles against big business, Ida Tarbell excelled as a journalist at a time when few women were in this field. She graduated from Allegheny College in 1880—the only woman in her class. After spending a short time teaching, Tarbell joined the staff of The Chautauquan, a monthly magazine, in 1883.
From 1891 to 1894, Ida Tarbell studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and worked as a freelance writer. Joining McClure's, a popular magazine, as an editor in 1894, she started out by writing biographies. Tarbell later began her best-known project—an examination of the Standard Oil Company. She was familiar with the oil business; her father had been an oilman. Showing great determination, Tarbell dug into the Rockefellers' family oil monopoly and uncovered their unfair business practices. Her discoveries were first published in the magazine and later were published as the book The History of the Standard Oil Company (1904). Her work contributed to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to break up the Standard Oil monopoly in 1911.
One of the greatest journalists of the twentieth century, Ida Tarbell was a pioneer in investigative reporting. She died on January 6, 1944. In 2000, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame. Two years later, Tarbell was honored by having her likeness appear on a U.S. postage stamp as part of the Women in Journalism stamp series, along with Nellie Bly, Marguerite Higgins, and Ethel Payne.
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