A farmer’s daughter who was born in a log cabin in western Pennsylvania, Ida Tarbell became one of America’s leading investigative journalists at the beginning of the twentieth century. Given the negative moniker of "muckraker" by President Theodore Roosevelt, writers such as Tarbell saw journalism as a forum for exposing abuses in American business and government. Her most celebrated series of articles centered on the collusive business tactics of Standard Oil, America’s largest oil company at the time. Published as a book in 1904, her groundbreaking exposé led the government to invoke the Sherman Antitrust Law against the company. After a series of rulings and appeals, the Supreme Court eventually dissolved Standard Oil’s holding company in 1911. In addition to authoring popular biographies of Napoleon Bonaparte and Abraham Lincoln, Tarbell wrote frequently about the challenges that women faced in American society.


  • Title: Ida Tarbell
  • Creator: Alfred Cheney Johnston
  • Creator Lifespan: 1885-1971
  • Date Created: c. 1925
  • Physical Dimensions: 33.8 x 26.1 cm (Image/Sheet)
  • Type: Gelatin silver print
  • Rights: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Francis A. DiMauro
  • External Link: https://npg.si.edu/object/npg_NPG.2011.89
  • Classification: Photograph

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