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|HouseWifeMafia.com ~ The eMagazine For Women
Katherine Graham fell in to, and found her
way through Newspaper publishing in what
had long been a man's world.
She was a very special woman who made a difference.
Katherine Graham was the owner and former publisher of
The Washington Post.
Her award-winning autobiography entitled Personal History was
published when she was 79. It discusses her life and career.
Mrs. Graham's father, Eugene Meyer, bought the newspaper in
the 1930s. But in 1948, when Mr. Meyer retired, he did not turn
the post over to his daughter. Women didn't run such
enterprises at the time. Instead, the reins were handed over to
Katherine Graham's husband, Philip.
"My father said to me, and I certainly went along
with it, that 'No man should work for his wife'."
A Harvard Law School Graduate, Phil Graham is described as
"handsome... in a raw-boned, raffish way, and gifted."
He is credited with transforming the venture from "a respected
but financially shaky paper" into one that "played a vital role in
politics and civic affairs in Washington." But, recounts Katherine
Graham, her husband was mentally ill. He was manic-depressive.
In the summer of 1963, Phil Graham committed suicide.
His wife recalls her reaction:
"You just put one foot in front of the other.
That's all I can say.
You don't say anything to yourself because
it is so overwhelming."
Katherine Graham notes that she was determined to keep the
newspaper in her family. "Absolutely! It never occurred to me
not to, because I had so much emotional involvement with it."
Katherine Graham writes -- and these are her words --
"I had very little idea of what I was supposed to be
doing, so I set out to learn."
"I would go to a meeting. It would be addressed by a man
saying very self-consciously, 'Lady and Gentlemen', or
'Gentlemen and Mrs. Graham'. I mean, you'd always stick out as
But, she decided to perservere, saying that it was the right time
and the right place.
"It was the woman's movement. You know, Gloria Steinem was a
great friend and she said 'Look here, you've got to be aware of
these things. ' I said: 'Oh, no, they are not for me.'
But she said: 'They are and this is why they'll make your life
better and they'll make other people's lives better'. She was right."
Under Katherine Graham's leadership, The Washington Post,
and affiliated companies, continued to prosper and grow.
One of the highlights of her tenure was the
newspaper's coverage, in the early 1970s, of
what's come to be known as Watergate.
An attempted burglary of the Democratic National Committee's
offices in Washington's Watergate complex was investigated by
Post reporters who followed a trail that eventually led directly to
the Nixon White House.
"It was a feeling of vindication when the facts began
to come out and the feeling that we were proved to
have been right, which was very reassuring.
But, were we satisfied to have a President of the United States
have to resign because of the Watergate stories? No. It proved
that our democracy was very strong, that it could survive this and
that it could accept that this man had to go, and that the
Vice-President, Gerald Ford, could take office and that there
wasn't any trauma that the country couldn't survive and live with.
We mastered those difficulties.
I think it was a great tribute to our kind of democracy."
Katherine Graham describes herself as being shy and insecure
when she took over The Washington Post. But her on-the-job
training paid off.
In time, she became a respected member of the newspaper
When it was announced that her memoir, Personal History had
won a Pulitzer Prize in the biography category, Mrs. Graham said
that she "always associated the Pulitzer with reporters and
editors and was always proud when we won one. But," she
continued, "it's a whole other scene when you win one yourself.
Especially for your first and only book."
This Lady broke a lot of ground for us. Her story is both
humbling and inspiring.
We hope that when you have a chance to read it that it will
reinforce what you already know -
We can make the best of all situations, step up to the plate
and set an example for others. However, sorrow is
unavoidable no matter how much or how well you do in life.
Everyone still gets a taste.