Rediscover: Personal History

Katharine Graham's path to publisher of the Washington Post was hardly written in ink. Her father, Eugene Meyer, was a wealthy investor and public official who purchased the Post at a bankruptcy auction in 1933. Despite her privileged economic conditions, Graham grew up with a distant socialite father and a condescending mother. She graduated from the University of Chicago and worked for a San Francisco newspaper before marrying Philip Graham in 1940. In 1946, Katharine's father gave the Post to her husband, which he ran until he committed suicide in 1963.

Katharine Graham became the only woman newspaper publisher of her era and the first female Fortune 500 CEO. Under Graham's leadership, the Post published the Pentagon Papers and broke the Watergate scandal, which, in response to an upcoming article, led Nixon's attorney general, John Mitchell, to tell Carl Bernstein that "Katie Graham's gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that's published." Katharine Graham's 1997 autobiography, Personal History, explores these historic events and her personal experiences as a woman in a male-dominated industry, her evolving stances on gender and labor issues, her family life (including her husband's mental illness) and her rarefied social circles. Personal History won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography, and is still in print in paperback (Vintage, $18, 9780375701047). --Tobias Mutter

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