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The Alderson Story: My Life as a Political Prisoner by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

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A wide variety of American woman have lived - and some have died - at the Federal Penitentiary for Women in Alderson, West Virginia.  Most have not been writers. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn ( 1890-1964) was not only a writer, but one with an audience, a legion of admirers. At the age of fifteen she delivered a speech entitled "What Socialism Will Do for Woman," and never looked back! She was a feminist, a labor leader, an activist, and a founder of the American Civil Liberties Union who played a leading role in the International Workers of the World (IWW), the Wobblies. In 1936 she joined the Communist Party and in 1961 became its chair. In 1951 she was arrested for violating the Smith Act - a law enacted in 1940 that set criminal penalties for advocating the overthrow of the U.S. Government by force or violence and required all non-citizen adult residents to register with the federal government. This law is still in effect. She was convicted the next year and sentenced to two years at Alderson. The Village Voice wrote of this book, "A Thorough, and almsot nonpolitical, view of what it's like to be in a women's prison these days." I agree. This is not a polemic. It is a matter-of-fact description of what life was like there that addresses drugs, violence, lesbianism, race, the whole range of topics and does lay bare some of the most atrocious policies of this institution.

New York: International Publishers, 1963. 223 pages.