Periodicals Department Collection and State Library Resources

 Muckraking Magazines


In the last decade of the 1800s, mass-circulation brought magazine publishers enough revenue to pay journalists to conduct in-depth investigations of problems arising with the new industrial economy and the rapid growth of cities.  Issues such as unsafe & unsanitary working conditions, child labor, slums, municipal corruption, false advertising, and cut-throat business practices were brought to the attention of the reading public by these journalists.   

After Cosmopolitan published a series of articles by David Graham Phillips which accused some of President Theodore Roosevelt's allies in the Senate of corruption, Roosevelt coined the pejorative term "muckraking" to malign the efforts of these journalists (1906).   


McClure's Magazine

Three of the most famous investigative journalists of the period wrote for McClure's. Beginning in 1902 with "Tweed Days in St. Louis," Lincoln Steffens uncovered corruption in various American municipal administrations, eventually collecting his McClure's pieces into a book, The Shame of the Cities (1904).  Ida Tarbell revealed the questionable business practices that had created John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Trust. Ray Standard Baker examined the plight of African Americans under Jim Crow, being one of the first mainstream journalists to do so. 

In 1906, Steffens, Tarbell, and Baker, along with a few other investigative journalists, took over editorial control of The American Magazine. According to an editorial statement, the magazine aimed "to become a lively and important journal, which keeps its temper, gets things somewhat near as they are, loves mankind, never attempt to puncture anything which it is not convinced is a sham, then does it with good nature and precision." 

American Magazine cover


The Periodicals Department of the Enoch Pratt Free Library holds McClure's, The American Magazine, and several other late nineteenth and early twentieth-century muckraking magazines.


American Magazine, The  1906-1956
Arena, The  1889-1909
Collier's  1904-1957
Cosmopolitan  1886-1915
Everybody's Magazine  1899-1921
Hampton's Magazine  1910-1912
Independent, The  1890-1921
McClure's  1893-1917