Michael FLEISCHER (1908-1998)

Michael « Mike» Fleischer left the mineralogical community and this world at the age of 90, on September, 5th 1998.

Michael Fleischer studied chemistry at Yale University. Leaving this path, he dedicated his professional life to Mineralogy and to Geochemistry. He held the highest positions as President of the Mineralogical Society of America and of the Geological Society of Washington. He was honour member of the SFMC and of the Mineralogical Society, and member of the Deutsche Akademie Naturforscher Leopoldina. His work on mineralogy led to many publications on manganese oxides and on the difficult problem of their recognitions. In geochemistry, his interest in trace elements led him to study their effects on human body.

But Michael Fleischer is probably more famous for his intense activity in mineralogical nomenclature field. Just after his PhD, he concentrated on mineralogical nomenclature, helping W.E. Ford during two years for the review of Dana’s System of Mineralogy.

On February 1941, by the initials M.F., he worked on the new section “new mineral names” in the American Mineralogist. For the first time in Mineralogy history, someone decided to tackle the problem of acceptance criteria for new minerals, and in his usual section, he added the subsections “new data” and “discredited minerals”.

From 1941 to 1960, out of a total of 583 new species proposed, only 311 were accepted by the M.F. During that period, 224 species were refused, leading to a total of 87 new species in the nomenclature.  

In 1959, R.L. Parker, first president of IMA, named him president of the new Commission of New Species and New Names. Michael Fleischer directed it until 1974, and stayed president emeritus after this date. He is its real spiritual father: he defined its role, in particular the role of coordinating nomenclature issues.

His work in the commission naturally led him to publish the five editions of his Glossary of Mineral Species. The next publication, under the leadership of J.A. Mandarino who succeeded him at the commission, will bear the name of Fleischer’s Glossary of Mineral Species.

His natural interest in the organization of data base led him to develop the mineralogical section of Chemical Abstracts.

He was co-author of another work with Larsen and Berman, maybe less famous, but not less important, entitled Microscopic Determination of the Non Opaque Minerals.

Michael Fleischer passed away leaving his wife, Helen, his sons Walter and David and his granddaughter Ilona.

Dr. Gian Carlo Parodi