S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Fischer, Professor Albrecht Christian Gottfried (agriculture, chemistry)

Born: 1 April 1856, Stuttgart, Germany.
Died: 4 May 1904, Beaufort West, South Africa.

Albrecht C.G. Fischer, secretary for agriculture of the Cape of Good Hope from 1887, is sometimes misnamed Albert (e.g., SESA; Elsenburg, 1978). He studied at the royal technical academy in Stuttgart, Germany, from 1874 to 1877 and worked as an assistant in the laboratory there. From 1877 to 1879 he was engaged in practical farming and in 1880 entered the Royal Wuerttemburg Land and Forestry Research Academy at Hohenheim, passing the state examination in science and agriculture in August 1882. After some time as a teacher at the agricultural school at Radolfzell, in Baden-Wuerttemberg, he was appointed professor of chemistry and experimental physics at Stellenbosch College (later Victoria College) in October 1883, following the death of Prof. W.H.A. Peake*.

Fischer arrived from Stuttgart with his assistant F. Blersch* and assumed duty in January 1884. He soon produced a small, undated pamphlet on "Proefstations" (experimental farms), based on a lecture dealing with the importance of experimental farms in promoting scientific methods of farming. In his Memorandum upon the condition of agriculture in the Cape Colony; and suggestions for its improvement (Parliamentary Report G46-85, 1885) he pointed out many shortcomings in local agricultural methods. He also wrote a paper on "The establishment of agricultural schools at the Cape" which was published in The South African Exhibition at Port Elizabeth, 1885, edited by C. Cowen. In this contribution he discussed previous attempts to establish an agricultural college at the Cape and the importance of agricultural education. In 1887 he started the first courses in agriculture at Victoria College, teaching agricultural chemistry. However, in November that year he left the college to become secretary for agriculture of the Cape Colony - a post he held until his retirement in 1892.

In his new position Fischer contributed numerous items to the first three volumes of the Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope during 1888 to 1891, mainly news items and short articles. He was instrumental in establishing the agricultural schools at Somerset East and Grahamstown in 1889, as well as experimental farms. In 1886 he was one of the examiners for the first Master of Arts (MA) degree in natuaral science awarded by the University of the Cape of Good Hope (to C.F. Juritz*), setting papers in analytical chemistry, agricultural chemistry and technological chemistry. In 1897/8 he was again an examiner for the university in chemistry. He was a member of the short-lived South African Geological Association, which was founded in Grahamstown in 1888.

In 1894 Fischer's health deteriorated and he developed chronic pulmonary tuberculosis. From 1895 to 1900 he lived at Jacobsdal in the Free State and then moved to Beaufort West. At his death in 1904 he was survived by his wife, Catherine Christina, born Murray.

List of sources:

Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope, 1888-1891, Vol. 1-3.

Cape of Good Hope. Civil Service List, 1892.

Cape of Good Hope. Memorandum upon the condition of agriculture in the Cape Colony; and suggestions for its improvement. Parliamentary Report G46-85, 1885.

De Bruyn, G.F.C. Professore: Universiteit van Stellenbosch en voorgangers. Kaapstad: Nasionale Handelsdrukkery, 1989.

Elsenburg: Yesterday, today and tomorrow. Department of Agricultural Technical Services, 1978.

Fischer, Albrecht Christiaan Gottfried Jacob Johann. http://www.stamouers.com/stamouers/d-g/761-fischer-albrecht-christiaan-gottfried-jacob-johann as on 2016-11-8.

Malherbe, D.F. du T. Family register of the South African nation (3rd ed.) Stellenbosch: Tegniek, 1966.

Mendelssohn, S. South African bibliography. London, 1910.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to Fischer, Albrecht Christian Gottfried/Fischer, A.C.G./Fischer, Prof.

Otto, R. Der anteil der Deutschen an der wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung. Lantern, 1992, Vol. 41, pp. 154-157.

Plug, C. & Levin, G. The South African Geological Association (1888-1890). Africana Notes and News, 1991, Vol. 29(7), pp. 251-261.

South African bibliography to the year 1925. London: Mansell, 1979.

Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa (SESA), Vol. 10, p. 274. Cape Town: NASOU, 1970-1976.

Thom, H.B. et al. Stellenbosch 1866-1966: Honderd jaar hoer onderwys (pp. 35, 48). Kaapstad: Nasionale Boekhandel, 1966.

University of the Cape of Good Hope. Calendar, 1886/7, 1897/8.

Compiled by: C. Plug