Ann Kindrick Fischer was born on May 22, 1919 in Kansas City. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of Kansas with a B.A. in Sociology in 1941. During World War II she lived in Washington, D.C. working as registrar at the School of Advanced International Studies. At the time she was briefly married to her first husband, James Meredith.
In 1946 Ann entered Radcliffe College's graduate program in the Department of Anthropology. As a student at Radcliffe, she met John Fischer, who was a student at Harvard. In 1949 she traveled to the Caroline Islands to study Trukese mother and child training and to marry John, who had obtained a position as District Anthropologist of the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. During their time in Micronesia, the two lived a year in Truk and three years in Ponape. While in Ponape, Ann taught English in a middle school as part of her anthropological research. She completed her dissertation, "The Role of the Trukese Mother and Its Effect on Child Training," and was awarded her Ph.D. in Anthropology in 1957.
Her interest in childrearing continued when she returned to Massachusetts from Micronesia. From 1954 to 1957, she worked as a research assistant on the Ford Foundation Six Cultures Project under the direction of John and Beatrice Whiting. Ann and her husband collaborated in a study of children in a New England town, which resulted in their 1963 article "The New Englanders of Orchard Town, USA." In 1961 and 1962, Ann and John worked together again to study childrearing in Japan, focusing on psychology and family life. When they returned from Japan, they did a follow-up study of a Japanese community in San Mateo, California.
In 1959, Ann became the first anthropologist to hold a training fellowship in biostatistics and epidemiology at Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. She joined their faculty and also taught at the Tulane School of Social Work (1960-1966) and the Anthropology Department of Newcomb College (1968-1971). In addition, Ann served as consultant to the Peace Corps on Micronesia.
Although she continued to write extensively on families and children throughout her career, her interests also included medicine, the role of women, and minority rights. She particularly became interested in the Houma Indians, publishing her article "History and Current Status of the Houma Indians" in 1965. An active supporter of the Houma Indians, she played an integral role in eliminating segregation in the school system in their area.
On April 22, 1971 Ann died of cancer at the age of 51.
John Lyle Fischer was born in Kewanee, Illinois on July 9, 1923. His undergraduate work began at Harvard in 1940 but was interrupted by his military service during World War II. During the war he studied Japanese and served as both an interpreter and translator in the Marines. Following the war he returned to Harvard to complete his B.A. in 1946. His undergraduate honors thesis was entitled "Japanese Linguistic Morphology in Relation to Basic Cultural Traits."
John continued on at Harvard for his graduate studies in the Department of Social Relations, earning his Masters degree in Anthropology in 1949. That same year he married Ann Kindrick Meredith on his birthday. The two were stationed in Micronesia where John served as District Anthropologist (1949-1951) for the Naval Administration and later as the District Island Affairs Officer (1951-1953) under the Interior Department Administration.
When he and his family moved back to Massachusetts, he returned to his academic studies at Harvard. Drawing upon his fieldwork in Micronesia, he completed his dissertation, "Language and Folktale in Truk and Ponape: A Study in Cultural Integration," in 1954 and received his PhD from Harvard the following year. Work on the dissertation led to a lifelong interest in folklore and lingistics as well as Truk and Ponape. He revisited Ponape several times in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
From 1954 to 1955 John collaborated with his wife to study comparative child-rearing in New England. In the early 1960s, they once again conducted fieldwork together, this time in Japan, studying the psychological dynamics of family life. They later did a follow-up study of a Japanese community in San Mateo, California. Just before his death, John was planning another research trip to Japan.
In 1958, John obtained a faculty position at Tulane University teaching social anthropology. He served as chair of the Department of Anthropology from 1969 to 1971 and taught at the university until his death. By 1979 Fischer had learned Russian and taught for a year at the University of Leningrad. Fischer was also a Visiting Professor at the University of Pittsburgh in 1975 to 1976. In addition, he was active in various professional societies and consulted with several national organizations. He was co-author of 8 books as well as author of many articles and book chapters.
Following Ann's death from cancer, Fischer married Simonne Cholin Sanzenbach, who was also a professor at Tulane, in 1973. They shared many interests and published an article together in Japanese, "The Nature of Speech According to French Proverbs," in 1983.
At the age of 61, John passed away on May 16, 1985.