Rieck Bennett Hannifin, 55, who retired in 1974 as director of research and resources of the Inter-American Foundation, died of cancer Nov. 11 at the Arlington Nursing Home, where she had been a resident for two weeks. She lived in Washington.

Mrs. Hannifin joined the foundation in 1971. Before that, she had been with the Library of Congress for 18 years. She began her career there with the Hispanic Foundation, then transferred to the foreign affairs division of the Legislative Reference Service, which is now the Congressional Research Service.

Mrs. Hannifin became an authority on Latin American affairs and was assigned to assist congressional committees and subcommittees. In this capacity, she traveled extensively in Latin America and accompanied members of Congress on field investigations there.

In 1959, she received a special invitation to attend the inauguaration of President Romulo Betancourt of Venezuela. She also had received other honors from Latin American leaders, as well as from U.S. officials involved with Latin American affairs. Mrs. Hannifin was born in Pittsburgh. She attended the University of Pittsburgh and graduated from George Washington University. She earned a master's degree from the University of Maryland. She also took advanced work at the University of Buenos Airs, Argentina, and the University of Santiago, Chile.

She had worked for the Navy Department here in 1945. After her university studies in South America, she returned to Washington in 1951 and was a social secretary at the Embassy of Afghanistan before joining the Library of Congress.

She was the author of a number of publications in her field and was active in the Latin American Studies Association.

Her marriages to H. A. Pat Bennett and Gerry Hannifin ended in divorce.

She is survived by a stepdaughter, Chelo Hannifin of San Francisco; a brother, Eugene Kerber of Hollin Hills, and a sister, Eleanore Holstein of Takoma Park.