Naumburg was born in New York City. She studied at the Sachs Institute at the University of Frankfurt and at the University of Munich, and studied with Carl Edward Hellmayr for several years. On returning to the United States she joined the staff of the Bird Department at the American Museum of Natural History, under Frank Chapman. She specialised in South American birds.
Naumburg’s most important work was on the birds of the Matto Grosso, based on collections made by George Kruck Cherrie during Theodore Roosevelt's expedition to Brazil. She later employed Emil Kaempfer to collect birds in southeastern Brazil.
Naumburg married Victor Reichenberger in 1908, and some of her early publications were under that name. Reichenberger died in 1913, and she married Walter W. Naumburg in 1923.
- "The birds of Matto Grosso, Brazil. A report on the birds secured by the Roosevelt-Rondon expedition" New York (1930).
- "Gazetteer and Maps Showing Collecting Stations Visited by Emil Kaempfer in Eastern Brazil and Paraguay" Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, Volume 68, Art. 6, pp. 449–469 (1935).
- "Studies of Birds from Eastern Brazil and Paraguay, Based on a Collection Made by Emil Kaempfer" Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, Volume 74, Art. 3: 139–205 (1937).
- "Studies of Birds from Eastern Brazil and Paraguay, Based on a Collection Made by Emil Kaempfer (Concluding part of the study of the Formicariidae)" Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, Volume 76, Art. 6: 231–276 (1939).
- John T. Zimmer (1955). "In memoriam: Elsie Margaret Binger Naumburg". Auk 72 (3): 265–266. doi:10.2307/4081604.
- Mary LeCroy "Elsie Margaret Binger Naumburg". Jewish Women's Archive
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