Robert Andrews Fisher

May 2, 2023

Robert Fisher

Robert Andrews Fisher (1832-1893) was in the early fiftes, the assistant to Prof. John A. Porter, of Yale College, and at one time was Professor of Chemistry at Brown University, which conferred upon him an honorary degree. In those days, no facilities were offered in this country to chemists who were desirous of pursuing advanced courses in their science. He accordingly went to Europe, studying at Gottingen and at Heidelberg, and later on attending lectures in Paris. Upon his return to America, he accepted the chair of chemistry and mineralogy in the University of California, devoting considerable attention, also, to the mining industry, then just developing in the far West. In this direction, in connection with Prof. Samuel W. Johnson, now of New Haven, Conn., his services as mining expert were called upon by the directors of the Richmond Mine in Nevada. [His position at Berkeley was abruptly canceled by the regents after a year without explanation.]

During the last fifteen years of his life, he was the consulting chemist to several large manufacturing concerns in Philadelphia, having been associated with the Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Company in this capacity during the greater part of this time. The President of this company bears the following testimony to his professional ability, "Professor Fisher had achieved a high position in his chosen profession of chemistry, having given especial attention to the scientific branch of the art of papermaking, and was considered an authority on all technical and practical questions arising in that particular manufacture. His knowledge, however, was general, and extended largely in the chemical composition of food products and manufacturers, and, in this direct, his attainments and clear, concise conclusions rendered his opinions much sought after on all mooted points."

He also devoted much attention to the manufacture of sulphate of alumina from bauxite, as well as from other materials; the number of patents taken out by him bearing evidence to his ingenuity and industry. He took an active part, moreover, in the introduction of the sulphite process of papermaking, in the Western States.

Mr. Fisher was a member of the Chemical Section of the Franklin Institute, and also of the American Chemical Society. He was well informed on all the recent advances in his science, particularly in such as relate to the application of chemistry to the industrial arts, and, while possessing a keen insight into the important points in any scientific questions, and was careful and considerate in his judgement.

Personally, Mr. Fisher was most considerate and courteous in his bearing. He was widely connected in Philadelphia, and endeared himself to many friends.

Source: Smith, Anna Wharton, Genealogy of the Fisher family, 1682 to 1896: