Elizabeth Riefstahl, née Titzel, was born in Butler, Pennsylvania and grew up in Chicago, the daughter of a physician. She earned a bachelor's degree in Classics from the University of Chicago and taught English composition there for a year, then moved to a career in journalism by joining the editorial staff of Asia: The American Magazine on the Orient. In 1922, she traveled through Jordan and Palestine, interviewing Bedouins, businessmen, soldiers, and emirs. After her return to the USA, in 1924 she married Rudolf A. Meyer Riefstahl, an expert on Islamic Art, with whom she had two children. Between 1924 and 1936, the family visited and lived in several Middle Eastern countries and also in Rome. Elizabeth collaborated on many of her husband's publications until his death in 1936. She then took the job of librarian at the newly-established Wilbour Library of Egyptology at the Brooklyn Museum. There she improved and catalogued a collection that became an outstanding library for the scholarly world. She also became associate editor of the Brooklyn Museum Quarterly. During World War II, Mrs. Riefstahl took over running the museum's Department of Ancient Art, and after the war, was appointed its assistant curator. She was the author of many magazine articles, book reviews, and monographs on Egyptian art and culture, but was best known for her book Thebes in the Time of Amunhotep III (1964). She officially retired in 1956, but continued to edit the museum's publications on ancient art for many years. She moved to Massachusetts to be closer to her daughter and to become executive secretary of The American Research Center in Egypt, then based in Boston.