Ida Tarbell was a woman far ahead of her time. Tarbell was an extraordinary woman whose work influenced the lives of others all over. She helped transform journalism by introducing what is called today investigative journalism. Through her achievements she not only helped to expand the role of the newspaper in modern society and stimulate the Progressive reform movement, but she also became a role model for women wishing to become professional journalists. Ida Minerva Tarbell, thefirst child of Franklin Sumner and Elizabeth McCullough Tarbell, was born November 5, 1857 in the log home of her maternal grandfather, Walter Raleigh McCullough. His farm was located in Hatch Hollow, near Wattsburg in northwest Pennsylvania. Both of her parents were teachers by profession, though her father was a carpenter and joiner by trade. Two of her brothers knew Abraham Lincoln, and her father was forced out of business by John D. Rockefeller and the South Improvement Company scheme, predecessor to his Standard Oil empire. These connections would prove influential in her later career.In 1860, when Ida was three years old, Franklin Tarbell, like so many others, rushed to the oil region. He moved his family to Cherry Run in Rouseville, where he began building wooden oil storage tanks. Ida spent her days playing among oil derricks on slippery, oil-soaked soil.In an article entitled “Pioneer Women of the Oil Industry,” written by Ida Tarbell in 1934, she tells of her life in Rouseville-attending Mrs. Rice’s home school-and the problems her mother had bringing children up among the oil derricks. While still living in Rouseville, Ida’s father extended his business to Pithole during its boom of 1865. With the decline of Pithole, however, the Tarbells moved to Titusville.The church and school were there-both institutions for a good living. In 1870, when Ida was thirteen years old, her father bought the Bonta House, a hotel in Pithole, for six hundred…
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