Elaine Elinson


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

Elinson, a former reporter with Pacific News Service in Southeast Asia, is coauthor of Development Debacle: the World Bank in the Philippines, which was banned by the Marcos regime.

The former editor of the ACLU News, Elinson is now a San Francisco-based editor and communications consultant for a wide range of legal and social justice organizations, and a book reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle, Truthdig.com and the Los Angeles Review of Books. She is a researcher/​writer for the National Park Service, digging up hidden histories of the Azorean dairy farmers who arrived at the Marin Headlands during the Gold Rush, the successful challenge to the color bar at Sutro Baths by an African American waiter in 1897, and the brutal treatment of World War I Conscientious Objectors in the dungeons of Alcatraz.

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 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, March 2009. She was named a Library Laureate by the San Francisco Public Library in 2010. Wherever There's a Fight was selected by City Lights Books for its Pedagogy of Resistance reading list in 2017.

Elinson is the author of numerous articles on U.S. foreign policy in Asia and Central America, the labor movement, and civil liberties that have been published in The Nation, San Francisco Chronicle, the Daily Journal, Rocky Mountain News, Poets and Writers, Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden) and other newspapers and magazines.

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.

Selected Works

Magazine Articles
The prevalence of physical abuse may be the most open secret behind the growing incarceration of women.
A journey to Viet Nam with Veterans for Peace reveals the lasting legacies of war -- Agent Orange and unexploded ordnance.
Book Reviews
Invaluable friendships that nourished women authors in centuries past.
I fell in love with this poet in a high school English class, and was thrilled that decades later I reviewed his work for my (new) hometown newspaper.
Lots to be learned from the long-forgotten letters and diaries of Americans who went to Spain to fight against Franco's fascism.
Newspaper Articles
Charlotte Brown defied a color bar on San Francisco street cars while the Civil War was still raging.
What a ride on the city bus can tell you about your fellow passengers – and yourself.
Untold history of working women’s efforts to secure the vote in San Francisco.
Gold Medal, California Book Awards 2010 Bronze Medal in History, Foreword Book Awards 2010
Expose of how U.S. investment in the Philippines bolstered the oligarchy and oppressed the poor.