Henry Mylin Kieffer (1890-1984) served as an American naval officer in the first half of the Twentieth Century before retiring and finding work as an artist in Pennsylvania. While he played a small role in many significant historical events, members of his extended family also played similar roles in prominent moments in American history. His father served at the Battle of Gettysburg as a drummer boy, while his great-great-great-great-grandfather enlisted for at least two terms in the Revolutionary War. Other extended family members made significant contributions to the fields of theology, philosophy, journalism, medicine, and cancer treatment.

Kieffer graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1912. He eventually participated in the occupation of Vera Cruz, Mexico, World War I in the North Atlantic and English Channel, and the Yangtze River Patrol in China before his retirement in 1933. He returned to service during World War II as a routing officer for the Baltimore and Philadelphia Navy Yards. After the war he lived for many years in various eastern and central Pennsylvania locations, scenes of which are depicted in his artwork.

Many of Kieffer's family members attended Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, home of the Phillips Museum. These family members include his father Henry Martyn Kieffer (class of 1870) and his third-cousin Dr. Robert Kieffer (class of 1974), who assisted with this project. His uncle John B. Kieffer was a classics professor at the College around the turn of the Twentieth Century, and John's descendants ultimately were responsbile for the donation of this collection to the college.