The Lamp 2017

The Lamp bids farewell Editor’s note: With this issue, The Lamp will conclude publication, ending a nearly 100-year run. During that time, we published close to 420 issues and more than 12,600 pages. This article chronicles the history of The Lamp and highlights the array of other communication choices now available to readers.

Lighting the way As president, Teagle had other critical obligations, primarily expanding the company’s worldwide exploration and production programs. He turned the day-to-day editorship of The Lamp over to Northrup Clarey, a former financial editor of The New York Times . But Teagle kept a hand in directing the publication even from afar, suggesting articles, approving copy and submitting future story ideas. The first issue of the publication confirmed its mission and reason for its name: “It is hoped that its rays will reach everyone interested directly or indirectly in the fortunes of the company – and that it will light the way to an understanding of one another and that no shadows of misconception nor suspicion contained detailed articles about Standard Oil’s operations, financial performance, management viewpoints, corporate milestones, employee activities and accomplishments. It also presented broader educational features about the petroleum industry, will endure in its presence.” From its onset, The Lamp

ExxonMobil predecessor Standard Oil faced a number of challenges in the early years of the 20th century, including the 1911 breakup, falling oil production, soaring petroleumproduct demand and growing international competition. But there were also internal issues that demanded the attention of management. The company recognized the need for better employee relations and major reforms in wages, benefits and job conditions. So it embarked on a major overhaul of personnel policies. A cornerstone of those changes, which set new standards for American industry, was a commitment to greater communication between the company and its employees. Walter Teagle, who was appointed president of Standard Oil in 1917 at the age of 39, was brought in to oversee these changes. Teagle, at the time one of the youngest men to run a large American corporation, was accessible and caring, but also intense and hard-driving. He immediately set about restructuring Standard Oil and strengthening its employee benefits with enhanced retirement and stock-purchase programs. He elevated the role of public and media relations and, as part of that effort, developed a new in-house magazine in 1918 called The Lamp , appointing himself de facto editor.

Saudi Arabia,” which transported readers to new and exciting regions of the world. Interest in the magazine quickly grew beyond its employee base to include investors, stockbrokers, students, financial writers and other external groups. Requests for the publication grew to such a level that by the early 1920s, the company actually sold

subscriptions for $1.00 a year. At that time, The Lamp was printed and mailed to subscribers every other month. Editorial refocus As Standard’s worldwide organization grew, the corporation organized itself along affiliate lines and established

stand-alone companies in the various countries where

such as how explorers find oil and how gasoline prices are determined. There were even “travelogue” stories about the search for oil with

titles like “Adventures in the upper Amazon” and “Hunting for oil in

Story by Bob Davis Photography by Doug Mangold


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