Anna Jaclard

Week Four of Resonating Women of the Paris Commune

Listen here to For Anna                                                                                       improvisation on melodica and bowed psaltery

Anna Jaclard 1843 – 1887

Anna Korvin-Krukovskaya, was born in 1843 in Vitebsk into a wealthy aristocratic Russian family. Anna strongly opposed the Tsar’s authoritarian rule and was a great supporter of Nikolai Chernyshevsky, who was imprisoned for publishing What is to be done? (1862), the influential book advocating a radical restructuring of Russian society into working and living cooperatives. Initially, Anna went to live in Paris where she associated with other radicals such as Louise Michel and Noémie Reclus. Due to its relatively liberal laws and toleration of political refugees, Anna moved to Switzerland where a substantial Russian community included her childhood friend, Elisabeth Dmitrieff. She studied medicine in Geneva and, in 1867, married Victor Jaclard, a fellow student and political radical. The couple became active in the First International and were deeply influenced by the anarchist views of Mikhail Bakunin and Sergi Nechayev.

Despite the fact that Victor had already been sentenced to deportation, the couple went to Paris and, from the outset of the Commune, both played important roles in supporting and defending it. Unlike Dmitrieff, Anna was not involved in the Union des femmes, preferring to be involved with the less structured and more grassroots clubs and committees. She took part in Jules Alix’s Comité des femmes and the Montmartre Vigilance Committee of the 18th arrondissement. She co-founded and co-edited the journal La Sociale with André Léo. According to a police report she attended meetings of the 18th arondissement’s Boule Noir club ‘…one saw her with a red sash around her waist, haranguing the audience and espousing the most extreme positions’ (as recounted by Eichner).  Active through to the Commune’s final hours, on the eve that the Versailles troops entered Paris, Anna was one of a small number of citoyennes appointed to form a commission to implement a programme of revolutionary education for girls.

When the Paris Commune was overthrown, Victor was sentenced to death and Anna to deportation to the penal colony in New Caledonia. However, in October 1871, with help from her sister Sophia and her husband, Vladimir Kovalevsky, the Jaclards escaped and fled to London, staying for a while with Karl Marx. During this period, Anna began translating Marx’s Das Capital into Russian.

In 1874, Anna and her husband returned to Russia where she worked as a journalist and translator. Anna resumed political activities, supporting various organizations and groups such as the Narodniks and the People’s Will – the group that assassinated Tsar Alexander II in 1881. The Jaclards avoided the repression that followed in Russia as the previous year a general amnesty enabled them to return to Paris where they continued their writing and journalistic work. Anna died in Paris in 1887.

A few  sources

M. P. Johnson, ‘Memory and the Cult of Revolution in the 1871 Paris Commune’, Journal of Women’s History, Vol. 9, No.1, Spring 1997

‘Anna Jaclard’ in Spartacus-educational

J Cox, ‘Genderquake: socialist women and the commune’, International Socialist Quarterly Review of Socialist Theory, Issue 69, posted 5 January 2021

C. Eichner, Surmounting the Barricades, Women in the Paris Commune, 2004

E. Thomas, The Women Incendiaries, 1966

My letterpress prints are made on paper salvaged from a discarded series of 19thc technical manuals sourced in Tarnac, a small rural community in Corrèze, one of the ‘reddest cantons in France as a whole’ (Ad Knotter, ‘Little Moscows in Western Europe: the Ecology of Small-place Communism’, International Review of Social History, 2011)