Born to a German baron, Alpenfels graduated from the University of Washington and received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. In her studies as part of the Bureau for Intercultural Education in 1944, she went to high schools in Chicago and educated students on differences and cultures, explaining that people considered "simple" have complex cultures.
- "Education: Anthropology for Youngsters". Time. May 8, 1944. Retrieved June 12, 2010.