Ellen White

  American Biographical History


Mrs. White is a woman of singularly well-balanced mental organization. Benevolence, spirituality, conscientiousness, and ideality are the predominating traits. Her personal qualities are such as to win for her the warmest friendship of all with whom she comes in contact, and to inspire them with the utmost confidence in her sincerity. Whatever she has suffered through calumnies occasioned by the unpopularity of the cause with which she has been connected, has emanated from those who are unacquainted with her daily life. Notwithstanding her many years of public labor, she has retained all the simplicity and honesty which characterized her early life.

As a speaker, Mrs. "White is one of the most successful of the few ladies who have become noteworthy as lecturers, in this country, during the last twenty years. Constant use has so strengthened her vocal organs as to give her voice rare depth and power. Her clearness and strength of articulation are so great that, when speaking in the open air, she has frequently been distinctly heard at the distance of a mile. Her language, though simple, is always forcible and elegant. When inspired with her subject, she is often marvelously eloquent, holding the largest audiences spellbound for hours without a sign of impatience or weariness.

The subject matter of her discourses is always of a practical character, bearing chiefly on fireside duties, the religious education of children, temperance, and kindred topics. On revival occasions, she is always the most effective speaker. She has frequently spoken to immense audiences, in the large cities, on her favorite themes, and has always been received with great favor. On one occasion in Massachusetts, twenty thousand persons listened to her, with close attention, for more than an hour.

Mrs. White is the author of numerous works, which have had a wide circulation. Her writings are characterized by the same simplicity and practical nature, which are conspicuous in her speaking. They enter into the home-life of the family circle in a manner, which rivets the attention of the candid reader, and cannot fail to instruct in the solemn duties of practical life. Her printed volumes aggregate more than five thousand pages.--American Biographical History of Eminent and Self-Made Men of the State of Michigan, (Third Congressional District), p. 108.  


It is the distinction of our days that the American Church has enjoyed the teachings of two prophetesses. The first century of our Colonial history gave us Ann Hutchinson. In old times prophets were stoned, and Massachusetts banished her first prophetess to Rhode Island, and from thence she wandered to the Dutch colony en the Hudson and was killed by the Indians near Hell Gate. Our two later prophetesses, Mrs. Eddy, founder of the Christian Science Church, and Mrs. Ellen White, leader and teacher of the Seventh-day Adventists, lived and died in comfort and honor, surrounded by their admiring followers. Many of Mrs. Eddy's disciples believed she would never die, and Mrs. White hoped to be one of those who would be taken up alive to meet the Lord in the air. But the Lord delayed His coming, and she entered into rest, just as others do, at the age of eighty-eight, and her burial took place a few days ago at the Advent headquarters at Battle Creek, Michigan. Her husband, Elder White, shares with her the honor of founding the Seventh-day Advent. Church, but she was its one prophetess.

Ellen G. (Harmon) White, born in Gorham, Maine, was a very religious child, and when thirteen years old, in 1840, in the midst of the Millerite excitement, heard the Rev. William Miller preach on the speedy coming of Christ and she was greatly affected. At the age of seventeen she had her first vision, and was bidden, she believed, by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the speedy advent of Christ to glorify His saints and destroy His enemies. She dreaded the duty, but was given strength to accept it, and was rewarded with a long succession of revelations through her life. Before she was twenty years old she married Elder White, and their following began to grow. Her revelations were in the nature of instructions to their disciples mostly aimed at their spiritual life, not forgetting to forbid the sins of custom and fashion. Thus women were forbidden to wear hoop-skirts, and required to abjure corsets and wear loose dresses. A vegetable diet was required, and even eggs were not allowed, and only two meals a day, breakfast at six and dinner at twelve. Saturday was the Sabbath; and the Lord's coming was close at hand, but the time set had to be put off through misunderstanding of Daniel's prophecy. At first the children were taken out of school to devote themselves to preparation for the advent, but after a while they learned patience, and established schools of their own, and entered on a great missionary propaganda, which took Mrs. White for years to Europe and Australia.

Of course, these teachings were based on the strictest doctrine of inspiration of the Scriptures. Seventh-day Adventism could be got in no other way. And the gift of prophecy was to be expected as promised to the "remnant church," who had held fast to the truth. This faith gave great purity of life and incessant zeal. No body of Christians excels them in moral character and religious earnestness. Their work began in 1853 in  Battle Creek, and it has grown until now they have thirty-seven publishing houses throughout the world, with literature in eighty different languages, and an annual output of $2,000,000. They have now seventy colleges and academies, and about forty sanitariums; and in all this Ellen White has been the inspiration and guide. Here is a noble record, and she deserves great honor.

Did she really receive divine visions, and was she really chosen by the Holy Spirit to be endued with the charism of prophecy? Or was she the victim of an excited imagination? Why should we answer? One's doctrine of the Bible may affect the conclusion. At any rate, she was absolutely honest in her belief in her revelations. Her life was worthy of them. She showed no spiritual pride and she sought no filthy lucre. She lived the life and did the work of a worthy prophetess, the most admirable of the American succession. - Independent;, August 23, 1915, pp. 249,250.

From Death Notices of James White -


He has been admirably aided in his ministerial and educational labors by his wife, Ellen White, one of the ablest platform speakers and writers in the west.--Lansing Republican, August 9,1881.

In 1846 he married Ellen G. Harmon, a woman of extraordinary endowments, who has been a co laborer in all his work and contributed largely to his success by her gifts as a writer and especially her power as a public speaker. Her authority in the powerful denomination, which she has helped to build up, is almost absolute. --The Echo (Detroit), August 10,1881; also Detroit Commercial Advertiser and Michigan Home Journal, August 12, 1881.

George Wharton James

Near the town of St. Helena is the St. Helena Sanitarium and the home of Mrs. Ellen White, who, with her husband, practically founded the church of the Seventh-day Adventists as it is governed today. Mrs. White was also the inspiration and guide of the early day movement toward more hygienic living, and the treatment of disease by what are now known as the Battle Creek Sanitarium methods. While the development of these methods is owing to the genius of Dr. J. H. Kellogg, the superintendent, the germ of them began with Mrs. White.

These sanitariums are to be found in every country of the civilized world, and most of them are specific and direct tributes to her power and influence as an organizer.

Every Seventh-day Adventist in the world feels the influence of this elderly lady who quietly sits in her room overlooking the cultivated fields of the Napa Valley, and writes out what she feels are the intimations of God's Spirit, to be given through her to mankind.

This remarkable woman, also, though almost entirely self-educated, has written and published more books and in more languages, which circulate to a greater extent than the written works of any woman of history. They are shipped by the carload.-- George Wharton James, in California Romantic and Beautiful, pp. 319, 320. The Page Co., Boston, 1914.

Swedish Encyclopedia: SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS

SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS, sometimes called Sabbatarians, the branch of the Advent movement (see Adventists) that arose in the United States in the l800' s, and whose most important leader was the noble and visionary gifted Ellen White (1827-1915), who contributed, by extensive traveling and diligent writing to the spreading of the movement even outside America. Seventh-day Adventists who share the general beliefs of the Adventists, especially stress the observance of Saturday instead of Sunday. The denomination is led by the General Conference that assembles every fourth year. They carry on their work by spreading literature, public efforts, and sanitariums that propagandize for a natural way of living. In Sweden, where the movement came in 1880, it is carrying on such health work at Nyhyttan Sanitarium, Hultafors Sanitarium, and Stockholm Hydro Clinic. In Denmark, the Seventh-day Adventists are running the well-known Skodsborg Sanitarium. The movement has its headquarters in Stockholm, and number nearly 2,000 believers. They publish the following papers: Tidens tecken (The Signs of the Times), Sundhet sbladet (Health Magazine), and Missionaren (The Missionary), monthly paper for the Seventh-day Adventists in Sweden (from l897).--M. Neiliendam, "Frildrker og sekter" (Churches and Sects), (1927), in Nordisk Familjebok (Swedish Encyclopedia).  

Dictionary of American Biography


(Nov. 26, 1827 - July 16,1915) leader of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was born at Gorham, Me., the daughter of Robert and Eunice (Gould) Harmon, and a descendant of John Harmon who was in Kittery, Me., in 1667. When she was still a child the family moved to Portland. She was not more than nine years old when a girl playmate in a fit of anger struck her with a stone, knocking her unconscious, a state in which she remained for three weeks. Her face was disfigured and her "nervous system prostrated." Her health was so poor that she had to give up school, and with the exception of a short period of tutoring at home, she received no further formal education.

During the stirring evangelistic campaign of William Miller [q.v.] in the forties, she embraced the Advent faith as taught by Miller and looked for the personal return of Christ on Oct. 22, 1844. When this expectation proved baseless, she was deeply disappointed; her health failed rapidly and she seemed sinking into death. In December, however, while she was kneeling in prayer with four other women, a vision came to her in which she seemed to be transported to heaven and shown the experiences that awaited the faithful. Subsequently, she had other visions, accompanied by strange physical phenomena. According to the reports of physicians and others, her eyes remained open during these visions, she ceased to breathe, and she performed miraculous feats. Messages for individuals, churches, and families were imparted to her, occasionally of what would take place in the future, but more often of reproof or encouragement. During a long life span, she exerted the most powerful single influence on Seventh-day Adventist believers. The larger portion of them accepted her visions without question and acted in accordance with her messages.

On Aug. 30, 1846, she married the Rev. James White, born in Palmyra, Me., August 4, 1821, the son of John White. He was ordained a minister of the Christian Connection in 1843, and adhered to the Advent faith. The young couple were penniless, and neither was in good health. After various activities, in 1849 White began to publish a little paper which soon became the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, the organ of the denomination.

It was first issued in various places in New England, then in Rochester, N.Y., and later in Battle Creek, Michigan. For years White was in charge of the publishing work of the Adventists. He labored hard for the union of the churches, and in 1863 the General Conference was organized. His health broke down about 1864 and his wife nursed him back to health. This experience turned their thoughts to health reform, and in response to a vision which came to the wife, the Western Health Reform Institute was founded in 1866 at Battle Creek. Under the promotion of the Whites, Battle Creek College, the first Seventh-day Adventist school, was founded in 1874. This same year they journeyed to California, where, at Oakland, White established the Signs of the Times, the printing establishment of which developed into the Pacific Press Publishing Association. He died at Battle Creek, Aug. 6, 1881.

After his death his wife traveled about visiting churches and attending conferences and camp meetings. She labored in Europe from 1885 until 1888, and in 1891 went to Australia, where she remained nine years. In 1901 she turned her attention to Christian work in the Southern States. Largely as a result of her interest the Southern Publishing Association was founded at Nashville, Tenn., in that year. In 1903 she played an important part in moving the denominational headquarters to Washington, D.C., and she also had a very definite part in founding, in 1909, the College of Medical Evangelists at Loma Linda, Calif., which has sent its graduates to many quarters of the world.

Her place in the denomination was unique. She never claimed to be a leader, but simply a voice, a messenger bearing communications from God to His people. Her life was marked by deep personal piety and spiritual influence, and her messages were an important factor in unifying the churches.

She was a constant contributor to the denominational papers and was the author of about twenty volumes. With her husband she wrote Life Sketches of Elder James White and His Wife, Mrs. Ellen White (1880), and in 1915 published Life Sketches of Ellen White. In 1926 Scriptural and Subject Index to the Writings of Mrs. Ellen White appeared. She died at St. Helena, Cal.

[Autobiog. writings mentioned above: A.C.Harmon, The Harmon Geneal, (1920); Signs of the Times, Aug. 16,23,1881; Advent Rev-.and Sabbath Herald, July 29, 1915; J.. N. Loughborough, The Great Second Advent Movement "{I905) M. E. Olsen, A Hist. of the Origin and Progress of Seventh-day Adventists (1925); D. M. Canright; Life of Mrs. E. G. White Her False Claims Refuted (1919); N.Y. Times, July 17; 1915 .1-Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. XX, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936, pp. 95, 99: