*Muckrakers*- Investigative Journalists in the Progressive Era

“Muckrakers”Investigative Journalists in
the Progressive Era
Who were they?
The muckrakers were people who revealed the
injustices of the Gilded Age industries to the public. They
were the people who changed the U.S. during the
Progressive Era. Through books, newspaper and
magazine articles, and photos, they exposed the plight of
the very poor.
Jacob Riis
● Jacob Riis was a poor Danish
immigrant- he had even been
homeless for a while
● He took photos for their “shock
value,” to shock the middle class
into helping the poor
● Unlike many reformers, he argued
that poverty was not caused by a
lack of work ethic. He praised “the
honest, thrifty poor who live lives
of heroism such as we cannot
Nellie Bly
● Investigative journalist known for her
undercover work and “stunt”
● She wrote popular, scathing articles
about the working conditions of factory
girls and the misogyny of unfair
divorce laws
● Went undercover as an amnesiac to
expose horrible conditions in the
Blackwell Island Insane Asylum- “a
human rat trap.”
● Sided with strikers and adovcated for
● “Around the World In 80 Days” stunt
Lincoln Steffens
● He was the son of a wealthy
● A reporter in New York- Ida Tarbell’s
● He wrote the book Shame of the Cities
● Steffens investigated corruption in the
municipal govt. in cities. He also wrote
articles exposing poor living conditions
in NYC
● His reputation was destroyed when he
testified in favor of a friend accused of
blowing up an anti-union building.
Ida Tarbell
● She was a teacher, an author, and a
journalist. Growing up, her town was
utterly ruined when Rockefeller made
a secret deal with the railroad
● “They had never played fair, and that
ruined their greatness for me.”
● She wrote many magazine series and
biographies. The History of the
Standard Oil Company (1902-1904),
negatively portrayed Rockefeller and
his unethical tactics. It had nineteen
Upton Sinclair
● As a child, he alternated between
living with his poor parents and rich
grandparents- exposed to inequality
early on, he became a socialist
● Influenced by Tarbell and Steffens
● Wrote bestseller The Jungle in 1906,
exposing unsanitary and dangerous
conditions in the meat-packing
● Helped in the passage of the Pure
Food and Drug Act
Lewis Hines
● Sociologist and a photographer.
● He took photographs of child labor in
the 1900s that made the public call
for child labor laws.
● One of the first photographers to take
documentary photographs and got
down to the level of the children to
literally get their perspective.
● “There is work that profits children,
and there is work that brings profit
only to employers. The object of
employing children is not to train
them, but to get high profits from their
work.” -Lewis Hines, 1908
● Unlike Riis, he tried to beautify the
Modern Muckrakers
● Michael Moore
● Makes movies about
social issues
● Shows people what
is wrong with our
society and brings
about awareness
● Made the movie
Sicko about U.S.
health care
Why are they so important?
The actions of the “muckrakers” led to the reformation of
society. They caused laws to be passed to protect the
people and their rights that otherwise would never have
been created. These people gave their best efforts to
better the people of the United States, and they deserve
to be remembered by future generations.
Works Cited
"Biography: Ida Tarbell." PBS.org. WGBH Educational Foundation, n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.
Davis, Kay. "Jacob Riis." Documenting "the Other Half" the Social Reform Photograohy of Jacob Riis & Lewis Line. U of
Virginia, n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.
"Jacob Riis: Shedding Light on NYC's 'Other Half.'" NPR Books. NPR, n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.
"Lewis Wickes Hine." The J. Paul Getty Museum. J. Paul Getty Trust, n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.
"Lincoln Steffens." Britannica Academic Edition. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.
"Lincoln Steffens." Spartacus Educational. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.
"Muckrakers." US History. Independence Hall Association in Philadelphia, n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.
"Nellie Bly." PBS.org. WGBH Educational Foundation, n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.
"Teaching with Documents: Photographs of Lewis Hine: Documentation of Child Labor." National Archives. U.S. National
Archives and Record Administration, n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.
"Upton Sinclair." Spartacus Educational. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.

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