Clarence S. Fisher, an architect whose specialty became the archaeology of the Ancient Near East, was born in Philadelphia, the son of Frederick and Emily Margaret (Shewell) Fisher. He attended public schools and then Eastburn Academy before entering the University of Pennsylvania, where he would receive his B.S. in Architecture in 1897 and conduct a senior thesis which concentrated on a classical building of his own design. Fisher then spent the winter of 1897/98 in St. Louis, MO, working for architect John L. Mauran of the firm of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge.
However, in the next year his career as an architect specializing in archaeological sites was launched when he was chosen to accompany the University of Pennsylvania's expedition to Babylonia. Other commissions from the University of Pennsylvania followed, and he would travel to Nippur, Giza, and Nubia on their behalf. He also was present on the important George A. Reisner-led Harvard University dig at Samaria during 1908-1910, the first major American investigation of Palestinian sites, and served at various times as curator for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Egyptian section of the University of Pennsylvania's University Museum. Over the course of his career in archaeology Fisher produced a number of reports on digs, including those conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard and Yale Universities; and he followed Reisner's lead in developing careful mapping and surveying of archaeological sites, using his background in architecture to include architectural plans of construction of the site.
In 1925 Fisher was appointed professor at the American School of Oriental Research, located in Jerusalem. His last major expedition was a study of the Khirbet Tannur in Transjordan in 1938.
As a result of his career interests, Fisher spent most of his life abroad; and, in fact, his last years were spent in Jerusalem where his influence in the wake of World War II was crucial. He was one of the organizers of the Home for Children in Jerusalem, especially dedicated to providing a refuge for homeless boys; and he himself legally adopted a Christian Arab boy. Upon his death Fisher was interred in the Protestant Cemetery on Mt. Zion, close to one of the British leaders in archaeology, Sir Flinders Petrie.
Fisher joined the T-Square Club in 1897 and was also a member of the AIA. In addition, he held membership in the Archaeological Institute of America.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- T-Square Club
- Archaeological Institute of America
- Royal Geographical Society
- Jerusalem YMCA
- University of Pennsylvania
- American School of Oriental Research
- Harvard University
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