Biographical Sketch


Ellen G. White

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From the Dictionary of American Biography

“The messengers sent by God to deliver His warnings are hated by those whom they warn. The people charge upon them the calamities which are the result of their own departure from righteousness. Those who thus place themselves in Satan's power do not see things as God sees them. They are blinded by Satan. When God's mirror is held up before them, instead of repenting and turning from sin, they become indignant to think that they should be reproved. They think that an uncalled-for attack is being made upon them, and that the messengers of God are their enemies.”  {RH, October 22, 1901 par. 10}’ E.G. White, Review and Herald, Vol. 4, 345.




"White, ELLEN GOULD HARMON (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, acompanied 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, ocasionally 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 Seventhday 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. [Pastor, Ed.] James White, born in Palmyra, Me., Aug. 4, 1821, the son of John White. He was ordained a minister of the Chistian 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, Mich. For years White was in charge of the publishing work of the Adventists. He labored hard for the union of the church, 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 Austrailia, 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, Cal., 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 contribuor to the denominational papers and was the author of about twenty volumes.--Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. XX, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1943, pp. 98, 99.


American Biographical History


"Mrs. E. G. White: '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 caluminies 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 spell-bound 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 (Michigan Volume, 1878), p. 108.


Recognized in James White Obituary Notices


"He has been admirably aided in his ministerial and educational labors by his wife, Ellen G. White, one of the ablest platform speakers and writers in the west."--Lansing Republican, Aug. 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), Aug. 10, 1881; also Detroit Commercial Advertiser and Michigan Home Journal, Aug. 12, 1881.


California--Romantic and Beautiful


"Near the town of St. Helena is the St. Helena Sanitarium and the home of Mrs. Ellen G. 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. . . . 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 [Ellen G. White] who quietly sits in her room overlooking the cultivatd fields of 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."--George Wharton James in California--Romantic and Beautiful, pp. 319, 320. (Page Company, Boston, 1914.)