Katharine C. Graham was a Washington, D.C., socialite and mother of four when, in 1963, her husband, Philip Graham, the publisher of The Washington Post, committed suicide. His death thrust her into the position of publisher. Graham contemplated selling the paper, but a friend, as she recalled in her memoir, urged her against it. “You’ve just been pushed down so far,” the friend told her, “you don’t recognize what you can do.” Graham went on to transform the Post from a middling daily into one of the country’s distinguished sources for news and investigative journalism. In 1971, Graham listened to her staff, ignored legal counsel, and published the Pentagon Papers. In 1973, Graham faced threats for the Post’s investigation into the Watergate scandal, reporting that would ultimately win the paper a Pulitzer Prize. As the writer Nora Ephron said in her review of Graham’s memoir, “her journey from daughter to wife to widow to woman parallels to a surprising degree the history of women in this century.” This exhibition celebrates one of the 20th-century’s most influential figures in American journalism, business, and politics through a series of photographs, letters, objects, and costumes—including the gown Graham wore to Truman Capote’s fabled party of 1966, the Black and White Ball. —C.J.F.
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