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Biography

Elaine Elinson's latest book, coauthored with Stan Yogi,
Wherever There's a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California,
(Heyday Books, 2009) won a Gold Medal from the California Book Awards in 2010 and was named a ForeWord Book of the Year in History. Heyday published a Tenth Anniversary edition of the book in November 2019.

The former editor of the ACLU News and communications director of the ACLU of Northern CaliforniaElinson is now a San Francisco-based editor and creative writing instructor.  She is a book reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle, Truthdig.com and the Los Angeles Review of Books and a theater reviewer for 48 Hills.  She is a researcher/writer for the National Park Service on civil rights history, digging up hidden histories of the Azorean dairy farmers who headed to the Marin Headlands during the Gold Rush, a successful challenge to the color bar at Sutro Baths by an African American waiter in 1897, and the brutal treatment of Conscientious Objectors in the military prison on Alcatraz during World War I.

 

Her essays have been anthologized in Civil Liberties United (2019), the ACLU Centennial Series (2019),  A Time to Rise (2018) and other collections.

Elinson has a degree in Asian Studies from Cornell University and an MFA in Writing from Goddard College (2005). She has lived in England, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Central America and speaks Spanish, Russian and Mandarin. She also enjoys conversations – albeit very brief – in Tagalog, Cantonese, Portuguese and French.

She has been awarded a writing grant from the California State Library's Civil Liberties Education Project and completed residencies at Hedgebrook, the Anderson Center, Mesa Refuge, Ragdale and the Headlands Center for the Arts. Her essay on finding solace at the library during a family health crisis was selected by the American Library Association for publication in Woman's Day. She was named a Library Laureate by the San Francisco Public Library in 2010. She serves on the board of Yerba Buena Gardens Festival in San Francisco and as president of the board of Mesa Refuge

Her freelance articles and essays have appeared in The Nation, San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Daily Journal, Rocky Mountain News, Poets and Writers, The Veteran, Women in Judaism, West Marin Review, and other newspapers, magazines and journals.

She is currently working on a book based on the recent discovery of her grandmother's diaries spanning the years 1905-1918, with entries from a shtetl in Russia to a tenement in Chicago.