Elaine T. Anderson, 42, an employe of the D.C. City Council from 1974 until her retirement earlier this year for reasons of health, died of cancer Monday at Howard University Hospital.

She was born in Washington and grew up here and in Arlington. She attended Howard, Georgetown and New York universities. In the 1960s, she lived in Asia, and during that time she attended the University of Rangoon, Burma.

After returning to Washington, she was a medical assistant for a physician here from 1972 to 1974.

In the latter year, she began a career in politics as a campaign aide for former City Council Chairman Sterling Tucker. She joined the staff of the council in late 1974.

Mrs. Anderson had been involved in numerous volunteer programs over the years. She coordinated a project for the elderly when she was a young woman and also worked on a program to help youngsters prepare for college. She was a tutor at the Burmese-American Institute in Rangoon and chairman of the volunteer committee for the National Urban League Conference in Washington in 1973.

Earlier this year she was proclaimed "Public Servant of the Year" by the Council of African Affairs and the D.C. Democratic Central Committee. The tribute was held at the Embassy of Ghana. Among her other honors was an Outstanding Contributor Award from the National Urban League.

Mrs. Anderson, who was divorced, is survived by two sons, Lance and Hal, of the home in Washington; her mother, Hazel Mary Tapscott, of Washington; a sister, Maureen T. Smith, of Washington; six brothers, Army Col. Eugene, of Newport News, Kenneth, of Arlington, and Army Lt. Col. Donald A., Barry, Glenn and Keith, all of Washington.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Howard University Cancer Research Foundation, Washington, D.C. CAPTION: Picture, ELAINE T. ANDERSON