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Remembering Ida Tarbell

November 05, 2021

The Writer’s Almanac

Thanks to The Writer’s Almanac for reminding us of the birthday of the great journalist Ida Tarbell, born on this date in 1857.

Tarbell is probably best known for writing The History of the Standard Oil Company, a 19-part series of articles in McClure’s in 1902 that exposed the questionable business practices of the Standard Oil Company.

Tarbell once said: “There was born in me a hatred of privilege, privilege of any sort. It was all pretty hazy, to be sure, but it still was well, at 15, to have one definite plan based on things seen and heard, ready for a future platform of social and economic justice if I should ever awake to my need of one.”

And this notable quote: “I have never had illusions about the value of my individual contribution! I realized early that what a man or a woman does is built on what those who have gone before have done, that its real value depends on making the matter in hand a little clearer, a little sounder for those who come after. Nobody begins or ends anything. Each person is a link, weak or strong, in an endless chain. One of our gravest mistakes is persuading ourselves that nobody has passed this way before.”

More on the life of Ida Tarbell on her AWTT portrait page.

Read full profile here (scroll down)

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