Emma Pietschmann attended the six-year Lyzeum of the Vienna Frauenerwerbsverein founded in 1866. She graduated from high school at the Humanistisches Gymnasium in Prague, but not until 1914. She had private tuition in English, French, Italian and Spanish and music lessons from the composer and music teacher Robert Fuchs, among others. She went on long study trips to Greece, France and Egypt. During the First World War she was a nurse at Reserve Hospital 11 (orthopaedic hospital and rehabilitation centre) directed by Hans Spitzy. In 1920 she married Wilhelm Schwaighofer, 12 years her senior. In 1921 she graduated in art history from the University of Vienna with a dissertation on the sculptor Johann Martin Fischer (1740–1820). In November 1925, shortly after her husband's death, she started working at the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM), inventorying and cataloguing in the library and in the archives of the Coin Collection. Apart from her work at the KHM, she carried out research and library work for aristocratic families, including the Mayr-Melnhof and Kinsky families. She also worked from 1930 as a researcher for Alphonse Rothschild (1878–1942), before his art collection was seized after the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany and he was forced to emigrate. In 1942 she became head of the Kunsthistorisches Museum library. Although never a member of the NSDAP, she belonged to affiliated associations and organizations such as the National Socialist People's Welfare and the German Labour Front. She was involved in the early restitution after the war and the donations in return for export approvals, as was the case with Alphonse Rothschild's art collection. She asked Ludwig Baldass, then director of the Picture Gallery, for a list of pictures from the collection that were to be retained as "donations" from Clarice Rothschild. She retired officially on 31 December 1946 at the age of 67, but as her position was not immediately filled, August Octavian Loehr, then First Director of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, requested that she remain. She retired definitively at the end of December 1947.
Susanne Hehenberger/Monika Löscher, "...das Schmerzenskind der letzten Jahre...". Ein Arbeitsbericht zur Provenienzforschung in der Bibliothek des Kunsthistorischen Museums, in: Bruno Bauer (Hg.), NS-Provenienzforschung an österreichischen Bibliotheken: Anspruch und Wirklichkeit, Graz 2011, 441–458.
Monika Löscher, Schwaighofer, Emma (Emmi, Emmy), geb. Pietschmann; Bibliothekarin * 19.5.1879 Wien, † 1.8.1960 Wien, in: Ilse Korotin (Hg.), biografiA. Lexikon österreichischer Frauen, Band 3, Wien 2016, 3010–3011.
Emma Schwaighofer, Johann Martin Fischer, Dissertation Universität Wien 1921.
KHM-Archiv, III 1620, PA Emmy Schwaighofer; Direktionsakten, 44/GG/1946, 67/ED/1946; 110/KORR/1943; Verwaltungsakten, 272/VK/1942; 20/VK/1943; 131/VK/1945.
OeStA/AdR, ZNSZ, Gauakt 254703, Emma Schwaighofer.