George Clyde Fisher

George Clyde Fisher [1] was a scientist who worked at the American Museum of Natural History and as curator for the Hayden Planetarium [2]. Fisher would marry Mary Frances “Te Ata” Thompson in 1933 [2].

Early Life

Born May 22, 1878, near Sidney, Ohio, along a county road in Orange Township, [3] Fisher was drawn to science and nature at an early age. Two of his uncles would teach him about astronomy [3].

By the time of his ninth grade commencement exercises for Orange Township school, Fisher presented the valedictory speech, “Examples of Great Men” [3].

First Marriage and Academic Pursuits

He married Bessie Wiley in 1905. The couple would have three daughters before divorcing [3].

Fisher went on to teach school and attend Ohio Northern University, transferring to Miami University in Oxford, where he graduated in 1905. Fisher also earned a Ph.D. in botany from Johns Hopkins by 1913 [4].

As a young man, he became friends with John Burroughs, a noted botanist. Through his close friendship with Burroughs, Fisher would often find himself in the company of other friends of Burroughs, including Theodore Roosevelt, Walt Whitman and John Muir [3].

He began working for the American Museum of Natural History in 1913.

Meeting Te Ata

Fisher also developed an interest in First American culture and language, leading him to visit the American Southwest [2].

While they were both participating in a panel discussion, Fisher would meet Te Ata. The two fell in love and married in 1933 [3].

Photo courtesy of the Chickasaw Council House Museum

Later Career, Retirement and Death

Fisher was instrumental in developing the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium. When it opened in 1935, Fisher was curator for the planetarium and the American Museum of Natural History Department of Astronomy. The planetarium blossomed under Fisher’s leadership. The department of astronomy was involved with the 1939 New York World’s Fair, where Fisher would speak about astronomy.

After retiring in 1941, Fisher and Te Ata traveled. In 1949, Fisher died in New York City [2].

[1] Chickasaw Nation, "The Chickasaaw Rancher," Chickasaw Nation, [Online]. Available: [Accessed 7 10 2021].

​[2] ​Meyer, Kendra, "American Museum of Natural History," [Online]. Available: [Accessed 7 10 2021].

​[3] ​Wallace, Rich, "Shelby County Historical Society," no., 1999.

​[4] Walter Havighurst Special Collections, "Walter Havighurst Special Collections," [Online]. Available: [Accessed 7 10 2021].