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10 Remarkable Women Who Shaped U.S. Business History

A tribute to the mothers of American business

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Katharine Meyer Graham

Washington, D.C.
Mass Media

When Katharine Meyer Graham succeeded her husband as publisher of The Washington Post and the top executive of Washington Post Company, she became one of the most powerful women in business. But before Graham reached the height of her profession, she gracefully overcame circumstances that would have caused most people — men included — to cry uncle.

Her story began like a fairytale: Graham was the daughter of a multimillionaire. In 1933 her father purchased The Washington Post at a bankruptcy auction. Her mother, a lover of knowledge, art and political activism, worked as a journalist. Graham began working for the Post in the late 1930s and married Harvard Law graduate Philip Graham in 1940. When her father died, he bequeathed the Post to Phillip. But Phillip was plagued by alcoholism and mental-health problems and committed suicide in 1963.

After her husband’s death, Graham gained leadership of the company and the Post. She also chaired the board of directors from 1973 through 1991. Under her remarkable leadership, the Post adopted a higher standard of investigative journalism and changed history by unearthing the Watergate scandal. The Post was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its coverage of Watergate. Graham earned a Pulitzer of her own for her autobiography, Personal History.

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