Death of an Alumna

in Allegheny College Bulletin. April 1944, p.4

Ida M. Tarbell during the winter of 1938-39.
Ida M. Tarbell during the winter of 1938-39.

Associate editor, The Chautauquan, 1883-91. Student, The Sorbonne and College de France, 1891-94, Associate editor, McClure’s Magazine, 1894-1906; American Magazine, 1906-15. Member, President Wilson’s Industrial Conference, 1919; President Harding’s Unemployment Conference, 1921.

Author, Short Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, 1895; Life of Madame Roland, 1896; Early Life of Abraham Lincoln (with J. McCan Davis), 1896; Life of Abraham Lincoln (2 volumes), 1900; History of the Standard Oil Company (2 volumes), 1904; He Knew Lincoln, 1907;Father Abraham, 1909; The Tariff in Our Times, 1911; The Business of Being a Woman, 1912; The Ways of Women, 1915; New Ideals in Business, 1916; The Rising of the Tide, 1919; In Lincoln’s Chair, 1920; Boy Scouts’ Life of Lincoln, 1921; He Knew Lincoln, and Other Billy Brown Stories; In the Footsteps of Lincoln, 1924; Life of Judge Gary, 1925; A Reporter for Lincoln, 1927; The Nationalizing of Business, 1878-98, 1936; Owen D. Young – A New Type of Industrial Leader, 1943; All in the Day’s Work (autobiography), 1939.

Ida Minerva Tarbell (’80) dean of American women writers and foremost alumna of Allegheny, died on January 6 at Bridgeport, Conn., at the age of eighty-six years.

By her own nobel career, and her constant interest in Allegheny, Ida Tarbell unquestionably brought more fame to the College through the years, than any other person. Sharing her success, Allegheny long ago won recognition as “that wonderful little college where first was lighted the flame of truth that burned within a great American.” And sixty years after she had been one of its first women students, Miss Tarbell loyally gave Allegheny full credit for the help it had given her; no words written about Allegheny are better reading or more effective publicity than the Allegheny Chapter in her autobiography, All in the Day’s Work, published by Macmillan in 1939.

Ida Tarbell was the lone woman to enter Allegheny in the fall of 1876. Coeducation was still an experiment, and there were only four other women students. But by Miss Tarbell’s senior year, the girls were at Allegheny to stay, thanks to the erection of the first women’s dormitory, growing out of a “coeducation campaign” in which Miss Tarbell herself played an important part.

Throughout her life Miss Tarbell was closely in touch with the College. She earned an M.S. degree in 1883 and was awarded two honorary degrees – L.H.D. in 1909, and LL.D. in 1915. For more than thirty years she was a member of the College board of trustees.

Five years ago Miss Tarbell made her last visit to Allegheny to deliver a series of lectures on “The Writing of Biography.” Out of this visit came The Lincoln Room in the Reis Library, continuing a collection built around the fruit of her years of research and writing about Abraham Lincoln.

The story of her collection in the Lincoln Room and the statistics of her career are given on these pages. There is nothing that this publication can add to the tributes which already have appeared in the editorial columns of the leading newspapers. But it can be expressed here how proud Allegheny alumni have been that one from their ranks earned such universal esteem and affection; how proudly they will keep alive st Allegheny the name and tradition and spirit of Allegheny’s brilliant daughter.

“Her most persistent literary interest was Abraham Lincoln. Latter-day research has added something to the material she was able to gather, but her work in the field will soon be on any small shelf of Lincoln books for countless years to come. She was as honest, as kind, as thoroughly American in the loftiest sense as he was. He would have loved and understood her as she did him.”