Élie Reclus

Élie Reclus (French: [ʁəkly]; 16 June 1827, Sainte-Foy-la-Grande – 11 February 1904, Brussels) was a French ethnographer who studied what were then called primitive cultures, and an anarchist.

Élie Reclus was the oldest of five brothers, born to a Protestant minister and his wife. His middle three brothers, including the well known anarchist Élisée Reclus, all became geographers.[1] In 1866 a feminist group called the Société pour la Revendication du Droit des Femmes began to meet at the house of André Léo. Members included Paule Minck, Louise Michel, Eliska Vincent, Élie Reclus and his wife Néomie, Mme Jules Simon and Caroline de Barrau. Maria Deraismes also participated. Because of the broad range of opinions, the group decided to focus on the subject of improving girls' education.[2]

Élie Reclus served as director of the Bibliotheque National in Paris during the Commune de Paris. Condemned par contumace, he went to the United States, then to England, until the French government amnesty in March 1879. While exiled in London, he presented to the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland his first article against circumcision, Circumcision, signification, origins and other similar rituals, in January 1879.[1]

Reclus also taught Charles Fairfield, who was the father of Rebecca West.[3]

He is also known for his anarchist writings.

Élie Reclus


  • Many articles in French or foreign journals or magazines, among which:
    • Revue de l’Ouest, Bay Saint-Louis (United States)
    • Mysl, then Dielo, Saint-Petersburg
    • Rousskoïé Slovo
    • The Times
    • Putnam’s Magazine,
    • International, San Francisco)
    • La Gironde (« Lettres d’un cosmopolite »)
    • La Rive gauche
    • La Nouvelle Revue,
    • Revue de la Société d’anthropologie
    • La Commune
  • 1864: Introduction to the Dictionnaire des communes de France, in collaboration with Élisée Reclus, Hachette
  • 1885: Les Primitifs, Chamerot.
  • 1894: Les Primitifs d’Australie, Dentu.
  • 1896: Renouveau d’une cité, in collaboration with Élisée Reclus, La Société nouvelle
  • 1894–1904: conferences at the New University of Brussels on the evolution of religions
  • 1904–1910, posthumes:
    • Le Mariage tel qu’il fut et tel qu’il est, Imprimerie nouvelle, Mons
    • La Commune de Paris au jour le jour, Schleicher, reedited in 2011 by the Association Théolib;[4]
    • Les Croyances populaires, lessons at the New University
    • Le Pain. La Doctrine de Luther, la Société nouvelle
    • Les Physionomies végétales, Costes


  1. ^ a b Revue internationale des sciences (Tome III, 1879, Paris)
  2. ^ McMillan 2002, p. 130.
  3. ^ "...late in her life, she [West] referred frequently to the anarchist Reclus brothers, one of whom (Elisée Reclus) had been a famous geographer in his time, while the other (Elie Reclus) had been the private tutor of West's father, Charles Fairfield..." Bernard Schweizer, Rebecca West: Heroism, Rebellion, and the Female Epic.Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2002. ISBN 0313323607.
  4. ^ Élie Reclus. "Élie Reclus. La Commune de Paris au jour le jour".


External links

Bibliothèque nationale de France

The Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF, English: National Library of France; French: [bi.bli.jɔ.tɛk na.sjɔ.nal də fʁɑ̃s]) is the national library of France, located in Paris. It is the national repository of all that is published in France and also holds extensive historical collections.

Caroline de Barrau

Caroline de Barrau (1828–88) was a wealthy French educationalist, feminist, author and philanthropist.

She became interested in the education of girls, created a school in Paris where her daughter was taught, and encouraged her daughter and other young women to successfully apply for admission to the University of Paris, previously a male-only institution. She belonged to international feminist associations, investigated the conditions of working women in Paris, was a leader in the campaign to eliminate state-regulated prostitution, helped prostitutes reenter society after being released from prison and provided aid to abandoned infants. She was the author of several books on women's issues.

Collège des Écossais, Montpellier

The College Des Ecossais (Scots College) was founded by Patrick Geddes in 1924 as an international teaching establishment located in Montpellier, in south of France.

Eliska Vincent

Eliska Vincent (née Eliska Girard 1841–1914) was a Utopian socialist and militant feminist in France. She argued that women had lost civil rights that existed in the Middle Ages, and these should be restored. In the late 1880s and 1890s she was one of the most influential of the Parisian feminists. She created extensive archives on the feminist movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries, but these have been lost.

Jacques Reclus

Jacques Reclus (27 July 1796, Le Fleix in Dordogne - 8 April 1882, Tarbes) was a French Protestant minister.

Following studies in Bordeaux, he worked as a librarian at Château de Bonzac, home of Elie Decazes (1780-1860), minister of Louis XVIII. From 1819 he studied theology in Montauban, becoming ordained as pastor at Nimes in December 1821. Afterwards he served as a minister in La Roche-Chalais (1822), then Montcaret (1824).

In June 1831 he resigned as pastor and instructor at the Protestant college in Sainte-Foy-la-Grande in order to head an independent evangelical community in Castétarbe. In 1850 he founded a home for the aged in Orthez.

He was the father of fourteen children who survived beyond infancy, including five sons who gained distinction during their careers:

Élie Reclus (1827-1904), journalist and political activist

Élisée Reclus (1830-1905), geographer and political activist

Onésime Reclus (1837-1916), geographer

Armand Reclus (1843-1927), geographer and explorer

Paul Reclus (1847-1914), surgeon.

League of Peace and Freedom

The Ligue internationale de la paix (League of Peace and Freedom) was created after a public opinion campaign against a war between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia over Luxembourg. The Luxembourg crisis was peacefully resolved in 1867 by the Treaty of London but in 1870 the Franco-Prussian War could not be prevented so the league dissolved and refounded as the 'Société française pour l'arbitrage entre nations' (League of arbitration between the Nations) in the same year.

The Société française pour l'arbitrage entre nations can be seen as a precursor of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, founded with the first Hague Peace Conference in 1899, and a precursor of the League of Nations, founded with the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and followed by the United Nations. The establishment of the Permanent Court of Arbitration was also set up by the Inter-Parliamentary Union that Frédéric Passy founded together with William Randal Cremer in 1889.

List of names in A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists

Joseph McCabe published A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists in 1920 (London: Watts & Co.). Most (though not all) of those listed were also included in A Biographical Dictionary of Ancient, Medieval and Modern Freethinkers (1945)

Louise Michel

Louise Michel (French pronunciation: [lwiz miʃɛl] (listen); 29 May 1830 – 9 January 1905) was a teacher and important figure in the Paris Commune. Following her penal transportation she embraced anarchism. When returning to France she emerged as important French anarchist and went on speaking tours across Europe. The journalist Brian Doherty has called her the "French grande dame of anarchy."

Maria Deraismes

Maria Deraismes (17 August 1828 – 6 February 1894) was a French author and major pioneering force for women's rights.

Maurice Vernes

Maurice Vernes (25 September 1845, in Nauroy – 29 July 1923, in Paris) was a French Protestant theologian and historian of religion.He studied theology at the Protestant seminary in Montauban and the University of Strasbourg, receiving his doctorate in 1874. From 1877 he taught as a lecturer at the Sorbonne, and two years later, became a professor at the Faculté de théologie protestante de Paris (Protestant Faculty of Theology in Paris). In 1886, he was named director-adjoint at the École pratique des hautes études (section on religious sciences). From 1901 he taught classes as a professor at the Collège libre des sciences sociales (CLSS) in Paris.In 1880 he founded the journal, Revue de l'Histoire des religions.

Onésime Reclus

Onésime Reclus (22 September 1837, Orthez, Pyrénées-Atlantiques – 30 June 1916, Sainte-Foy-la-Grande, Gironde) was a French geographer who specialized in the relations between France and its colonies.

In 1880 he coined the term "Francophonie" as a means of classification of peoples of the world, being determined by the language (French) they spoke. While this term did not appear in dictionaries until 1930, it has become more important since the late 20th century as part of conceptual rethinking of cultures and geography.

Paul Reclus

Jean Jacques Paul Reclus (Orthez, 7 March 1847 – Paris, 29 July 1914) was a French physician specializing in surgery. The Reclus' disease is named after him. He was the son of pastor Jacques Reclus and brother of Élie, Élisée, Onésime and Armand Reclus.

He is known for his research of local anesthetics, particularly cocaine.

Paule Mink

Paule Mink (born Adèle Paulina Mekarska; 1839–1901) was a French feminist and socialist revolutionary of Polish descent. She participated in the Paris Commune and in the First International. Her pseudonym is also sometimes spelled Minck.

Reclus family

The Reclus family, largely known as the progeny and extended family of pastor Jacques Reclus, became known for their distinctive careers in geography, anarchism, journalism, medicine, and other fields during the 19th and 20th centuries.


Sainte-Foy-la-Grande is a commune in the Gironde department in Nouvelle-Aquitaine in southwestern France.

Victoire Léodile Béra

Victoire Léodile Béra (18 August 1824 – 20 May 1900) was a French novelist, journalist and feminist. She took the name of André Léo, her two twin sons' names.

She was born in Lusignan, Vienne, at Town Hall square, in 1824. She stayed there until 1830, when her father moved to Champagné Saint Hilaire, where he was a judge. She left the region in 1851, to Lausanne in Switzerland, where she married Gregoire Champseix. He was there since the Spring 1849 after fleeing the repression due to his contribution to the 1848 revolution and later, the Napoleon III police.

In 1866 a feminist group called the Société pour la Revendication du Droit des Femmes began to meet at the house of André Léo in Paris. Members included Paule Minck, Louise Michel, Eliska Vincent, Élie Reclus and his wife Néomie, Mme Jules Simon and Caroline de Barrau. Maria Deraismes also participated. Because of the broad range of opinions, the group decided to focus on the subject of improving girls' education.André Léo fought with the French Republicans, later during the Commune de Paris, and in the International Workers Association. Travelling in Europe, she studied and worked at improving the feminine condition of her times. She died in Paris in 1900, after achieving much work: numerous novels, tales and essays, articles and political texts. Her writings, especially on social and educational issues, express ideas which still remain highly topical.


Élie is the French equivalent of "Elias" or "Elijah."

Élisée Reclus

Jacques Élisée Reclus (French: [ʁəkly]; 15 March 1830 – 4 July 1905) was a renowned French geographer, writer and anarchist. He produced his 19-volume masterwork, La Nouvelle Géographie universelle, la terre et les hommes ("Universal Geography"), over a period of nearly 20 years (1875–1894). In 1892 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Paris Geographical Society for this work, despite having been banished from France because of his political activism.

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