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Reiff family papers

 Collection — Box: 1-2
Identifier: 116.8001

The Reiff family papers contain materials from 1836 through 2007, with the bulk of the papers dated between 1912 and 1994. This collection contains mostly reproductions of a journal, correspondence, genealogical information, newspaper articles, photographs, drawings, maps, transcriptions, summaries, VHS tapes, and a scrapbook. In addition to Harry Reiff’s reminiscences, this collection includes similar recollections of play and adventure by his grandsons, Michael and Nicholas Reiff, as well as those of his wife, Ione Drake Reiff, members of her family including her brother, John F. Drake, her uncle, Joseph Samuel King, Jr., and grandfather, John Dillard Johnson of their time living in Waco, Texas, and Spokane, Washington.


  • 1833 - 2007
  • Majority of material found within 1912 - 1994

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though the donor has not transferred intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) to The Strong, he has given permission for The Strong to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.


0.25 Linear Feet (2 boxes)


The Reiff family papers are a compilation of photographs, maps, summaries, drawings, a journal, a scrapbook, newspaper articles, transcriptions, and VHS tapes related to reminiscences of the Reiff family members.

Biographical Note

Henry (“Harry”) Reifschneider (later shortened to Reiff) was born in Brooklyn in 1899, the fourth child of German immigrants who settled in the Williamsburg area. Despite being from a poor family, Harry Reiff pursued his education at the Brooklyn YMCA, Mount Hermon School for Boys in Massachusetts, Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and Harvard College, where he received the Carnegie Endowment Fellowship. He received both master’s and doctoral degrees in history from Harvard University. In 1928, Harry joined the faculty at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York.

Harry Reiff married Ione Drake of Spokane, Washington, in 1935. They had two children, Jonathan and Daniel. Appointed head of St. Lawrence University’s History and Government Department in 1944, Harry additionally served as a legal specialist for the U.S. State Department during President Harry S. Truman’s tenure. He passed away in 1981.

Harry’s son Daniel also entered academia. He and wife Janet had two children, Michael and Nicholas. A SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Daniel Reiff taught in the Department of Art at SUNY Fredonia for many years. In 2013, Daniel published Teacher, Scholar, Mentor: Dr. Harry Reiff of St. Lawrence University, using diaries, letters, oral histories, and other archival material about his father.


Series I: Provenance information, 2003-2007

Series II: Reminiscences, 1833-1994

Subseries A: John Dillard Johnson, 1833-1913
Subseries B: Joseph Samuel King, Jr. (“Jody”), 1856-1929
Subseries C: Ione Drake Reiff (“IDR”), 1909-1959
Subseries D: John F. Drake (“Johnny”), c. 1913-1924
Subseries E: Harry Reiff, 1892-1965
Subseries F: Michael Reiff, 1991-1994
Subseries G: Nicholas Reiff, 1991-1994

Custodial History

The Reiff family papers were donated to The Strong between 2003 and 2007 as a gift from Daniel D. Reiff. The papers were accessioned by The Strong under Object ID116.8001 and were received from Daniel Reiff in 2 folders, 2 volumes, and 2 objects.

Processed by

Nicole Pease, February 2017
Finding Aid to the Reiff Family Papers, 1833-2007
Nicole Pease
February 27, 2017
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong Repository

The Strong
One Manhattan Square
Rochester NY 14607 USA
585.423.1886 (Fax)