Emily Elliott
HIST 122
Primary Source Assignment
November 24, 2015

Analyzing three primary sources from the years 1886 through 1940, about John D. Rockefeller and his impact on the Industrial Revolution shows how he dominated the oil industry and was the first great U.S. Business Trust. The first primary source is an article from a historic newspaper called the Chicago Daily Tribune. The second is a photo of John D. Rockefeller playing gold in 1921, entitled “The Richest Man in the World – John D. Rockefeller on gold links”, and the third is a book found in The Simpson Library’s collection titled “John D. Rockefeller: Robber Baron, or Industrial Statesman?”. These sources explain the history, the social and period context about the source, and give an overview of the context of the history within which it was produced.
My first primary source, a news article, entitled “Oil in Aladdin’s Lamp: John D. Rockefeller, The Richest Man in America”, written in 1886, Rockefeller’s was called “The Aladdin of the age” (Chicago Daily Tribune). This article stated how influential John D. Rockefeller was in the oil industry. The main points that the article covers is how Rockefeller started working from bottom and then moved his way upward through odd jobs, then becoming one of the richest men in the world, from the Standard Oil Trust and the amount of stock the company held (Chicago Daily Tribune).
The historic content in this source shows how recognized Rockefeller was and how significant his company was, especially when compared to the lack of other oil companies in the time. This demonstrates that the people of the era truly cared about this topic. The content of this article is from a face to face sit down interview between the reporter, John D. Rockefeller, and other inventors and investors of the era. A look inside of the companies’ management and which companies the people should invest their money into helps the consumers realize if it would be successful and whether or not to move forward in capitalizing.
The second primary source is a picture of John D. Rockefeller playing golf sometime between the years of 1895 and 1921. This picture showed that John D. Rockefeller did recreational activities as well as founding and building a company based off his money and new discoveries with oil. This photo is displayed with other photos under the category of “Gold, Recreation, and Sports” and also with photos of other famous people playing recreational sports in the Smithsonian Museum of History (Smithsonian Museum of History).
This photo of John D. Rockefeller demonstrates the need for people to see just how “normal” famous and influential people are and that they experience simple daily pleasures as well. Individuals of the time period needed to be re-assured that the big time leaders of the popular companies have other things on their mind than money and business. Even though Rockefeller was classified as “The Richest Man in the World”, this picture shows he was still ordinary.
The last primary source, I found in the Simpson Library. It is a book entitled, “John D. Rockefeller: Robber Baron, or Industrial Statesman?” by author Latham. This book, written in 1940s just after the death of Rockefeller, has chapters titles “The Muckrakers”, “The Standard Oil Company”, “The Robber Barons”, “Some Experiences in the Oil Business”, “Rebates and Standard Oil”, “The Old Self Interest”, A General Evaluation”, “An Academy Portrait”, and “Wealth against Commonwealth”. These chapters and what they contain inform the reader about the political side of the business and life (Latham).
This book, along with the period’s context surrounding the source, demonstrates a natural flow through the time period. Starting with Muckrakers, which were the investigative journalists of the time who wrote about the public known facts as well as information that was not meant for the public. The book then starts going through rebates and the standard oil prices and rise and fall. The sections informs the reader about the money put in and invested as well as the money made from the oil industry.
These primary sources help shape an overview of John D. Rockefellers impact the economy and oil business. Him impression that he left on the Industrial Revolution made him to be the first great U.S. Business Trust. His domination is shown through this newspaper article, photo, and book and will leave a mark on all of the viewers who use them as research.

Chicago Daily Tribune. “Oil in Aladdin’s Lamp: John D. Rockefeller, The Richest Man in America.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1886): 1. Article.

Latham. John D. Rockefeller: Robber Baron, or Industrial Statesman? Boston, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, San Fransisco, London: D.C. Heath and Company, 1949. Document.

Smithsonian Museum of History. 1895-1921. The Richest Man in the World- John D. Rockefeller on golf links. Underwood and Underwood Glass Stereograph. Photograph. 20 November 2015.


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