Ida Tarbell (1857-1944)

Ida Minerva Tarbell was a journalist, labelled a “muckraker” for her investigation of the oil industry.

Born in Erie County, Ida moved to Titusville in 1870 when her father became involved in the oil business. She was among the first females to attend Allegheny College, housed in Hulings Hall, graduating in the class of 1880 memorialized by the Sophomore Stone. She found her calling working as a journalist in The Chautauquan office in Meadville, Pa from 1883 to 1891. In 1894 she moved to New York City, where her work at McClure's Magazine led her to investigate the oil industry, challenging Rockefeller’s business techniques. Her research papers for The History of the Standard Oil Company are found at the Drake Well Museum. She also wrote a biography of Abraham Lincoln, and her research collection is held at Allegheny College. She was named a trustee of Allegheny College in 1912 and maintained close connections to the region until her death in 1944.

Explore the sites to follow the trail of Ida Tarbell’s life.

Ida Tarbell House, Titusville

At the age of thirteen, Ida M. Tarbell moved to Titusville, Pa. with her family. She lived here until 1876, when she enrolled at Allegheny College in Meadville. This childhood home at 324 East Main Street is now preserved as an historic site.

Hulings Hall

In 1870 Allegheny College first accepted women as students, although it was not until Hulings Hall was erected in 1879 that they were housed on campus. At the cornerstone laying ceremony, Ida B. Tarbell (Class of 1880) expressed her “heart-felt…

The Sophomore Stone

Near the cement walk at the head of the ravine at Allegheny College is a small stone with the Latin phrase "Spes sibi quisque" meaning "Everyone is his/her own hope" and signed by the sophomore class of 1880. Back in the spring…

Woodlawn Cemetery, Titusville

To the west of the town center, the Woodlawn Cemetery was the burial spot for many town notables, including the families who rose to prominence and fortune during the early development of the oil industry. The cemetery centrance is dominated by the…