Ellen G. White

Ellen Gould White (née Harmon; November 26, 1827 – July 16, 1915) was an American woman author and co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Along with other Adventist leaders such as Joseph Bates and her husband James White, she was instrumental within a small group of early Adventists who formed what became known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church. White is considered a leading figure in American vegetarian history.[2] Smithsonian named her among the "100 Most Significant Americans of All Time".[3]

Ellen G. White
Ellen White in 1864
Personal details
Ellen Gould Harmon

(1827-11-26)November 26, 1827
DiedJuly 16, 1915(1915-07-16) (aged 87)
Elmshaven, St. Helena, California, U.S.
SpouseJames White
OccupationAuthor and co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

White claimed to have received over 2,000 visions and dreams from God[4] in public and private meetings throughout her life, which were witnessed by Adventist pioneers and the general public. She verbally described and published for public consumption the content of each vision. The Adventist pioneers viewed these experiences as the Biblical gift of prophecy as outlined in Revelation 12:17[5] and Revelation 19:10,[6] which describe the testimony of Jesus as the "spirit of prophecy". Her Conflict of the Ages series of writings endeavor to showcase the hand of God in Biblical history and in church history. This cosmic conflict, referred to by Seventh-day Adventist theologians as the "Great Controversy theme", became foundational to the development of Seventh-day Adventist theology.[7] Her book on successful Christian living, Steps to Christ, has been published in more than 140 languages. The book Child Guidance, a compilation of her writings about child care, training and education, has been used as the foundation for the Seventh-day Adventist school system.

White was considered a controversial figure by her critics, and much of the controversy centered on her reports of visionary experiences and on the use of other sources in her writings. Historian Randall Balmer has described White as "one of the more important and colorful figures in the history of American religion".[8] Walter Martin described her as "one of the most fascinating and controversial personages ever to appear upon the horizon of religious history".[9] Arthur L. White, her grandson and biographer, writes that Ellen G. White is the most translated female non-fiction author in the history of literature, as well as the most translated American non-fiction author of either gender.[10] Her writings covered a broad range of subjects, including religion, social relationships, prophecy, publishing, nutrition, creationism, agriculture, theology, evangelism, Christian lifestyle, education, and health. She advocated vegetarianism. She promoted and has been instrumental in the establishment of schools and medical centers all over the world, with the most renowned being Andrews University in Michigan and the Loma Linda University and Medical Center in California.

During her lifetime she wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books. As of 2019 more than 200 White titles are available in English, including compilations from her 100,000 pages of manuscript published by the Ellen G. White Estate, which are accessible at the Adventist Book Center. Her most notable books are Steps to Christ, The Desire of Ages and The Great Controversy.

Personal life

Early life

Ellen and her twin sister Elizabeth were born November 26, 1827, to Robert and Eunice Harmon at a home on State Route 114 in Gorham, Maine.[11] She was the seventh of eight children. Robert was a farmer who also made hats using mercuric nitrate.[12]

Charles E. Dudley Sr., in his book The Genealogy of Ellen Gould Harmon White: The Prophetess of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the Story of the Growth and Development of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination As It Relates to African-Americans claims that Ellen White had an African-American ancestry.[13] In March 2000, the Ellen G. White Estate commissioned Roger D. Joslyn, a professional genealogist, to research Ellen G. White's ancestry. Joslyn concluded that she was of Anglo-Saxon origin.[14]

At the age of nine, White was hit in the face with a stone.[12] This occurred while she was living in Portland, Maine, and probably attending the Brackett Street School.[11] This, she said, started her conversion: "This misfortune, which for a time seemed so bitter and was so hard to bear, has proved to be a blessing in disguise. The cruel blow which blighted the joys of earth, was the means of turning my eyes to heaven. I might never had known Jesus Christ, had not the sorrow that clouded my early years led me to seek comfort in him".[15] A few years after her injury, Ellen, with her parents, attended a Methodist camp meeting at Buxton, Maine; and there, at the age of 12, a breakthrough occurred in which she had a conversion experience and felt at peace.[16]

Millerite movement

In 1840, at age 12, her family became involved with the Millerite movement. As she attended William Miller's lectures, she felt guilty for her sins and was filled with terror about being eternally lost. She describes herself as spending nights in tears and prayer and being in this condition for several months. On June 26, 1842, she was baptized by John Hobart in Casco Bay in Portland, Maine, and eagerly awaited Jesus to come again. In her later years, she referred to this as the happiest time of her life. Her family's involvement with Millerism caused them to be disfellowshipped by the local Methodist church.[17]

Marriage and family

Sometime in 1845 Ellen Harmon came in contact with her future husband James Springer White, a Millerite who became convinced that her visions were genuine. A year later James proposed and they were married by a justice of the peace in Portland, Maine, on August 30, 1846. James later wrote:

We were married August 30, 1846, and from that hour to the present she has been my crown of rejoicing ... It has been in the good providence of God that both of us had enjoyed a deep experience in the Advent movement ... This experience was now needed as we should join our forces and, united, labor extensively from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific ...[18]

The Whites had four sons: Henry Nichols, James Edson (known as Edson), William Clarence (known as Willie or W. C.), and John Herbert. Only Edson and William lived to adulthood. John Herbert died of erysipelas at the age of two months, and Henry died of pneumonia at the age of 16 [White Estate Biography] in 1863.

Final years and death

Oak Hill Cemetery-James and Ellen White

White spent the final years of her life in Elmshaven, her home in Saint Helena, California after the death of her husband James White in 1881. During her final years she traveled less frequently as she concentrated upon writing her last works for the church. She died on July 16, 1915, at her home in Elmshaven, which is now an Adventist Historical Site. After three funerals, she was buried with her husband James White in Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek, Michigan.[19]



From 1844 to 1863 White allegedly experienced between 100 and 200 visions, typically in public places and meeting halls. She experienced her first vision soon after the Millerite Great Disappointment of 1844.[20][21] She said she had one that led to the writing of The Great Controversy at an Ohio funeral service held on a Sunday afternoon in March 1858, in the Lovett's Grove (now Bowling Green, Ohio) public school. This was an alleged vision of the ages-long conflict between Christ and his angels and Satan and his angels.[22]

Physical phenomena during visions

J. N. Loughborough, who had seen White in vision 50 times since 1852, and her husband, James White, listed several physical characteristics that marked the visions:

  1. "In passing into vision, she gives three enrapturing shouts of "Glory!" which echo and re-echo, the second, and especially the third, fainter but more thrilling than the first, the voice resembling that of one quite a distance from you, and just going out of hearing."[23]
  2. For a few moments she would swoon, having no strength. Then she would be instantly filled with superhuman strength, sometimes rising to her feet and walking about the room. She frequently moved hands, arms, and head in gestures that were free and graceful. But to whatever position she moved a hand or arm, it could not be hindered nor controlled by even the strongest person. In 1845, she held her parents' 18.5 pound family Bible in her outstretched left hand for half an hour. She weighed 80 pounds at the time.[24]
  3. She did not breathe during the entire period of a vision that ranged from fifteen minutes to three hours. Yet, her pulse beat regularly and her countenance remained pleasant as in the natural state.[23]
  4. Her eyes were always open without blinking; her head was raised, looking upward with a pleasant expression as if staring intently at some distant object. Several physicians, at different times, conducted tests to check her lack of breathing and other physical phenomena.[23]
  5. She was utterly unconscious of everything transpiring around her, and viewed herself as removed from this world, and in the presence of heavenly beings.[23]
  6. When she came out of vision, all seemed total darkness whether in the day time or a well-lighted room at night. She would exclaim with a long-drawn sigh, as she took her first natural breath, "D-a-r-k." She was then limp and strengthless.[23]

Martha Amadon added: "There was never an excitement among those present during a vision; nothing caused fear. It was a solemn, quiet scene."[23]

First vision

In December 1844, White experienced her first vision during a prayer meeting at the home of Mrs. Haines at 60 Ocean Street in South Portland, Maine, which later became the Griffin Club. The building was torn down in 2018.[25]

At this time I visited one of our Advent sisters, and in the morning we bowed around the family altar. It was not an exciting occasion, and there were but five of us present, all females. While praying, the power of God came upon me as I never had felt it before, and I was wrapt up in a vision of God's glory, and seemed to be rising higher and higher from the earth and was shown something of the travels of the Advent people to the Holy City ...[26]

In this vision the "Advent people" were traveling a high and dangerous path towards the city of New Jerusalem [heaven]. Their path was lit from behind by "a bright (light) [...] which an angel told me was the midnight cry." Some of the travelers grew weary and were encouraged by Jesus; others denied the light, the light behind them went out, and they fell "off the path into the dark and wicked world below."[27] The vision continued with a portrayal of Christ's second coming, following which the Advent people entered the New Jerusalem; and ended with her returning to earth feeling lonely, desolate and longing for that "better world."

As Godfrey T. Anderson said, "In effect, the vision assured the Advent believers of eventual triumph despite the immediate despair into which they had plunged."[28]

Second and third visions

In February 1845, White allegedly experienced her second vision in Exeter, Maine known as the "Bridegroom" vision. Together with the third vision about the new earth, the visions "gave continued meaning to the October 1844 experience and supported the developing sanctuary rationale. Additionally they played an important role in countering the spiritualizing views of many fanatical Adventists by portraying the Father and Jesus as literal beings and heaven as a physical place."[29]

Otsego vision

On June 6, 1863 in Otsego, Michigan she experienced a vision about health and disease.[30] The vision showed her that vegetarian food, as was described in Genesis 1:29,[31] was the proper food for humankind. However, White enjoyed eating meat and had a hard time with the message because of her extensive travels during the 19th century and the lack of vegetarian food. Vegetarianism was popular in Portland, Maine during her childhood,[32] but she enjoyed meat. She became committed herself to vegetarianism in January 1894 when she was at the Brighton camp meeting near Melbourne, Australia.[33]

Public testimony

Fearing people would not accept her testimony, White did not initially share her visions with the wider Millerite community. In a meeting at her parents' home when she received what she regarded as confirmation of her ministry:

While praying, the thick darkness that had enveloped me was scattered, a bright light, like a ball of fire, came towards me, and as it fell upon me, my strength was taken away. I seemed to be in the presence of Jesus and the angels. Again it was repeated, 'Make known to others what I have revealed to you.'[34]

Soon White was giving her testimony in public meetings – some of which she arranged herself – and in her regular Methodist class meetings in private homes.

I arranged meetings with my young friends, some of whom were considerably older than myself, and a few were married persons. A number of them were vain and thoughtless; my experience sounded to them like an idle tale, and they did not heed my entreaties. But I determined that my efforts should never cease till these dear souls, for whom I had so great an interest, yielded to God. Several entire nights were spent by me in earnest prayer for those whom I had sought out and brought together for the purpose of laboring and praying with them.[35]

News of her visions spread and White was soon traveling and speaking to groups of Millerite followers in Maine and the surrounding area. Her visions were not publicized further afield until January 24, 1846, when her account of the first vision: "Letter From Sister Harmon" was published in the Day Star, a Millerite paper published in Cincinnati, Ohio by Enoch Jacobs. White had written to Jacobs to encourage him and although she stated the letter was not written for publication,[36] Jacobs printed it anyway. Through the next few years it was republished in various forms and is included as part of her first book, Christian Experience and Views, published in 1851.

Two Millerites claimed to have had visions prior to White – William Ellis Foy (1818–1893), and Hazen Foss (1818?–1893), White's brother-in-law. Adventists believe the prophetic gift offered to these two men was passed on to White when they rejected it.[37]

Middle life

White described the vision experience as involving a bright light which would surround her and she felt herself in the presence of Jesus or angels who would show her events (historical and future) and places (on earth, in heaven, or other planets). The transcriptions of White's visions generally contain theology, prophecy, or personal counsels to individuals or to Adventist leaders. One of the best examples of her personal counsels is found in a 9-volume series of books entitled Testimonies for the Church, that contains edited testimonies published for the general edification of the church. The spoken and written versions of her visions played a significant part in establishing and shaping the organizational structure of the emerging Adventist Church. Her visions and writings continue to be used by church leaders in developing the church's policies and for devotional reading.

On March 14, 1858, at Lovett's Grove, near Bowling Green, Ohio, White received a vision while attending a funeral service. On that day James White wrote that "God manifested His power in a wonderful manner" adding that "several had decided to keep the Lord's Sabbath and go with the people of God." In writing about the vision, she stated that she received practical instruction for church members, and more significantly, a cosmic sweep of the conflict "between Christ and His angels, and Satan and his angels." Ellen White would expand upon this great controversy theme which would eventually culminate in the Conflict of the Ages series.[38]

Personality and public persona

White was seen as a powerful and sought after preacher.[39][40] While she has been perceived as having a strict and serious personality, perhaps due to her lifestyle standards, numerous sources describe her as a friendly person.[41][42]

Major teachings


  • Christ-centered salvation by grace[43]
  • The Great Controversy theme
  • Obedience to revealed truth a sign of genuine faith[44]

Jerry Moon argues that White taught assurance of salvation.[45] Arthur Patrick believes that White was evangelical, in that she had high regard for the Bible, saw the cross as central, supported righteousness by faith, believed in Christian activism, and sought to restore New Testament Christianity.[46]

Ellen White avoided using the word "Trinity", "and her husband stated categorically that her visions did not support the Trinitarian creed."[47] Her theology did not include a doctrine of the Trinity (generally speaking, she lacked doctrine, since she was a preacher/orator rather than an academic theologian).[48] In her own opinion, Jesus did not begin as equal to God the Father but was at a certain moment promoted to equality with the Father, which triggered Lucifer's rebellion (as explained in her book Spirit of Prophecy).[49]

It has however been demonstrated, by Jerry Moon in The Adventist Trinity Debate,[50] that although her earlier visions and writings do not clearly reveal the Three Persons of the Godhead, her later works strongly bring out the teaching of "the Third Person of the Godhead."[51]


White's earliest essays on education appeared in the 1872 autumn editions of the Health Reformer.[52] In her first essay she stated that working with youthful minds was the most delicate of tasks. The manner of instruction should be varied. This would make it possible for the "high and noble powers of the mind"[52] to have a chance to develop. To be qualified to educate the youth (she wrote), parents and teachers must have self-control, gentleness and love.

White's idea of creating a Christian educational system and its importance in society is detailed in her writings Christian Education (1893, 1894) and Education (1903).

Health reform

White expounded greatly on the subjects of health, healthy eating and a vegetarian diet. In her book Counsels on Diet & Foods, she gives advice on the right foods and on moderation. She also warns against the use of tobacco, which was medically accepted in her day. Her views are expressed in the writings Healthful Living (1897, 1898) and The Health Food Ministry (1970) and The Ministry of Healing (1905). White wrote in The Ministry of Healing: ""Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator."[53]

She is the founder of many health sanitariums, the most famous of which are the Battle Creek Sanitarium[54] and the Loma Linda Sanitarium, that is now name of the Loma Linda University Medical Center.[55] She hired American physician, inventor, and businessman John Harvey Kellogg.[56] Her work for health reform and emphasis on healthy lifestyle is seen as the cause of the city of Loma Linda being named by researcher Dan Buettner a Blue Zone where residents live for longer lives than the average lifespan.[57] The health reform prophecies she delivered have become church doctrine to glorify God but does not make vegetarianism a requirement for salvation. The most vegetarian church fellowship is in North America where over half of Adventists in North American are vegetarian or vegan.[58]

Her health reform writing focused on human health but her statements also included compassion towards animals, which was unusual for her time.[59]

Major writings

White's books include:

  • Patriarchs and Prophets (book, 1890), describing Biblical History from creation to Israel's King David.
  • Prophets and Kings (book, 1917), describing Biblical History from King Solomon until Israel returned from exile.
  • The Desire of Ages (book, 1898), comprehensive volume on the life of Jesus Christ.
  • The Acts of the Apostles (book, 1911) detailing the rise of the early Christian church in the first century.
  • The Great Controversy, describing the history of sin from beginning to end.
  • Steps to Christ (1892), a classic, concise (evangelical) treatment of personal devotional topics.
  • Christ's Object Lessons (1900), about the parables of Jesus.
  • Education (1903), principles of Christian education
  • The Ministry of Healing (1905), instructions on healthy living and the care of others.
  • Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing (1896), about Christ's Sermon on the Mount.

A survey conducted in 2016 found that White was the 11th most-read author in Brazil.[60]

Historic legacy

According to one evangelical author, "No Christian leader or theologian has exerted as great an influence on a particular denomination as Ellen White has on Adventism."[61] Additional authors have stated "Ellen G. White has undoubtedly been the most influential Seventh-day Adventist in the history of the church."[62][63] She is frequently mentioned in non-Adventist media, with one example being Parade magazine in 2022 listing a quote from White among its list of the 100 best love quotes.[64]

Ellen G. White Estate

The Ellen G. White Estate, Inc., was formed as a result of White's will.[65] It consists of a self-perpetuating board and a staff which includes a secretary (now known as the director), several associates, and a support staff. The main headquarters is at the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Branch Offices are located at Andrews University, Loma Linda University, and Oakwood University. There are 15 additional research centers located throughout the 13 remaining divisions of the world church. The mission of the White Estate is to circulate Ellen White's writings, translate them, and provide resources for helping to better understand her life and ministry. At the Toronto General Conference Session (2000) the world church expanded the mission of the White Estate to include a responsibility for promoting Adventist history for the entire denomination.

Adventist historic sites

Several of White's homes are historic sites. The first home that she and her husband owned is now part of the Historic Adventist Village in Battle Creek, Michigan.[66] Her other homes are privately owned with the exception of her home in Cooranbong, Australia, which she named "Sunnyside", and her last home in Saint Helena, California, which she named "Elmshaven".[67] These latter two homes are owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the "Elmshaven" home is also a National Historic Landmark.

Avondale College

White inspired and guided the foundation of Avondale College,[68] Cooranbong, leaving an educational legacy from her time in Australia. Avondale College is the main Seventh-day Adventist tertiary institution in the South-Pacific Division. In 2021, the restored White house of Sunnyside was reopened to the public. The home has architectural elements of New England adapted for Australia.[69]

Other sites

In Florence, Italy, a street is named after White. The via Ellen Gould White leads to the Adventist Institute "Villa Aurora" at the Viale del Pergolino.[70]

Vegetarian food

White had a major influence on the development of vegetarian foods and vegetarian food product companies. In the U.S., these included granola, Kellogg's corn flakes, Post cereals, Soyalac soymilk, Worthington Foods, La Loma Foods, and Morningstar Farms. In 2022, the New York Conference of Seventh-day Adventists had a list of 33 Adventist-affiliated vegetarian restaurants, most that were located inside the United States of America including six that serve in Texas.[71] In Kingston, Jamaica, the three Maranatha health food stores and one restaurant are based on the health teachings of White.[72]

In 2021, an opinion column in Australian beef industry publication Beef Central was critical of the influence of the Seventh-day Adventist church in shaping national food policy traced to White and the 1897 founding of the Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing Company, which manufactures Veggie Delights plant-based meats.[73] In 2022, journalist Avery Yale Kamila said that White's "profound and lasting influence on vegetarian food in the United States continues today."[32]

Biographical writings

Ellen White wrote her own biography first published in 1851 as A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White. This she expanded in 1880 as Life Sketches of James White and Ellen G. White which was later expanded again by White and several authors who covered the remainder of her life, published in 1915 it remains in print as Life Sketches of Ellen G. White (abbreviated as LS).[74][75]

The most comprehensive biography of White is an extensive six-volume work called "Ellen G. White: A Biography" written by her grandson, Arthur L. White. Thousands of articles and books have been written about various aspects of Ellen G. White's life and ministry. A large number of these can be found in the libraries at Loma Linda University and Andrews University, the two primary Seventh-day Adventist institutions with major research collections about Adventism. An "Encyclopedia of Ellen G. White" is being produced by two faculty at Andrews University: Jerry Moon,[76] chair of the church history department, and Denis Fortin,[77] dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary.


Red Books: Our Search for Ellen White is a play about White, a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the various perceptions of her throughout the history of the church. It was produced by the Dramatic Arts Society of Pacific Union College in California. It was based on interviews collected from over 200 individuals. The title derives from White's books, which were traditionally bound with a red cover.[78][79]


Produced by the Seventh-Day Adventist church in 2016, the movie Tell the World[80] chronicles the life of Ellen G. White, "Her guidance and advice, obtained through Bible studies, as well as dreams and visions revealed by God, guided the steps of the Church in becoming a worldwide movement of compassion in the areas of health, education, community development and disaster relief."[81]

Examination of the prophetic value of her writings

Most Adventists believe White's writings are inspired and continue to have relevance for the church today. Because of criticism from the evangelical community, in the 1940s and 1950s church leaders such as LeRoy Edwin Froom and Roy Allan Anderson attempted to help evangelicals understand Seventh-day Adventists better by engaging in extended dialogue that resulted in the publication of Questions on Doctrine (1956) that explained Adventist beliefs in evangelical language.

Evangelical Walter Martin of the countercult Christian Research Institute "rejected White's prophetic claims", yet saw her "as a genuine Christian believer", unlike her contemporaries Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, and Charles Taze Russell. Kenneth Samples, a successor of Martin in his interaction with Adventism, also denies White's prophetic claims yet "believe[s] she, at minimum, had some good biblical and theological instincts".[82]

Adventist statement of belief about the Spirit of Prophecy

White's writings are sometimes referred to as the Spirit of Prophecy by Adventists. The term is dually applied to the Holy Spirit which inspired her writings.

Early Sabbatarian Adventists, many of whom had come out of the Christian Connection, were anti-creedal. However, as early as 1872 Adventists produced a statement of Adventist beliefs. This list was refined during the 1890s and formally included in the SDA Yearbook in 1931 with 22 points. In 1980 a statement of 27 Fundamental Beliefs was adopted, to which one was added to in 2005 to make the current list of fundamental beliefs.[83] White is referenced in the fundamental belief on spiritual gifts. This doctrinal statement says:

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. As the Lord's messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested. (Joel 2:28,29; Acts 2:14–21; Hebrews 1:1–3; Revelation 12:17; 19:10.)[84]


Critics have voiced doubts as to the reliability of Ellen G. White as a prophetess and the authenticity of her visions. Ronald L. Numbers, an American historian of science, criticized White for her views on health and masturbation.[85] Numbers argues that she plagiarized vitalist writers (such as Horace Mann and Larkin B. Coles) for her arguments against masturbation.[85][86] White's book Appeal to Mothers states that she did not copy her text from the health reform advocates and that she independently reached such conclusions.[87] Numbers' criticism was acknowledged as significant by the staff of the White Estate, which sought to refute it in A Critique of the Book Prophetess of Health,[88] arguing that the similarities are due to supernatural inspiration influencing each of the authors.[89]

Roger Coon wrote a lecture arguing that certain followers of the religion were engaging in "equal but opposite dangers" in their view of White. He described one group that overdeified her, and one group that "picks and chooses" from what teachings they follow of hers.[90]

Critics have accused Ellen White of plagiarism. One such was Walter T. Rea, who argued against the "original" nature of her alleged revelations in his book The White Lie. In response, The White Estate released a document to refute claims presented in The White Lie.[91]

An attorney who specializes in patent, trademark, and copyright cases,[92] Vincent L. Ramik, undertook a study of Ellen G. White's writings during the early 1980s, and concluded that they were "conclusively unplagiaristic."[93] When the plagiarism charge ignited a significant debate during the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Adventist General Conference commissioned a major study by Dr. Fred Veltman to examine the issue of White's literary dependence in writing on the life of Christ. The ensuing project became known as the "'Life of Christ Research Project."[94] Veltman examined fifteen, randomly selected chapters of The Desire of Ages for evidence of literary dependence and concluded, "On an average we may say that 31.4 percent of the DA text is dependent to some extent on literary sources."[95] The massive report is available at the Adventist Archives.[96] Dr. Roger W. Coon,[97] David J. Conklin,[98] Dr. Denis Fortin,[99][100] King and Morgan,[101] among others, undertook the refutation of the accusations of plagiarism. At the conclusion of his report, Ramik states:

It is impossible to imagine that the intention of Ellen G. White, as reflected in her writings and the unquestionably prodigious efforts involved therein, was anything other than a sincerely motivated and unselfish effort to place the understandings of Biblical truths in a coherent form for all to see and comprehend. Most certainly, the nature and content of her writings had but one hope and intent, namely, the furthering of mankind's understanding of the word of God. Considering all factors necessary in reaching a just conclusion on this issue, it is submitted that the writings of Ellen G. White were conclusively unplagiaristic.[93]

Ramik cleared her of breaking the law of the land and time (copyright infringement/piracy).[93][102] In 1911, more than 70 years before charges of plagiarism, White wrote in the introduction to The Great Controversy her reason for quoting, in some cases without giving due credit, certain historians whose "statements afford a ready and forcible presentation on the subject."[103] That means that she acknowledged the charges of “uncredited paraphrasing,” a common literary practice of her time.[91][104] Spectrum, a liberal Adventist publication, claims that, due to the plagiarism scandal, "at least the educated mainstream church" ("church" meaning SDA church) no longer buys into the claim of White's "verbal inspiration".[105]

That Ellen White borrowed from other authors was openly acknowledged by herself (cf. GC xi-xii) and by people close to her (cf. 2SM 451-465).[106]

Denis Fortin & Jerry Moon, The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia

Robert Olson, secretary of the Ellen G. White Estate, said, “The church is not denying the accumulating evidence of White’s copying….”[107]

T. Joe Willey, The Great Controversy Over Plagiary: The Last Interview of Walter Rea, Spectrum Magazine

The clearest evidence that Ellen G. White and her publisher, The Review & Herald, were guilty of illegal copyright infringement was the lawsuit filed against them by Conybeare and Howson, a major publisher in the 19th century, which documented extensive plagiarism by Ellen G. White in her book, Sketches from the Life of Paul,[108] taken from their book, Life and Epistles of the Apostle Paul, published in 1855. Confronted with this evidence, the Seventh-day Adventists immediately ceased publishing Ellen G. White's book, and did not re-publish it until the Conybeare and Howson copyright had expired.[109]

The evidence that this was no isolated incident is found in the fact that the public secular press accused Ellen G. White of extensive plagiarism, documenting that this was her general practice, and concluding that "Mrs. White is a plagiarist, a literary thief."[110]

As interesting as this legal opinion and discussion of plagiarism may be, the real issue for White and Adventists is how her now generally-recognized practice of significant literary dependence affects her authority and inspiration.

See also


  1. Daily, Steve (October 12, 2020). Dr. Page Publishing, Inc. p. 364. ISBN 978-1647018771.
  2. "History of Vegetarianism - Ellen G. White (1827 - 1915)". ivu.org. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  3. Frail, T. A. (November 17, 2014). "Meet the 100 Most Significant Americans of All Time". Smithsonian. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  4. "Ellen G. White Biography". Ellen G. White Estate. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  5. Revelation 12:17
  6. Revelation 19:10
  7. Douglass 2010, p. 416.
  8. Balmer 2002, pp. 614–615.
  9. Martin 1965, p. 379.
  10. White 2000.
  11. Kamila, Avery Yale (May 13, 2015). "Maine woman founded church, converted followers to vegetarianism - Portland Press Herald". Press Herald. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  12. White, Arthur L. (1984). Ellen G. White: The Early Years, 1827–1862 (Vol. 1). Review and Herald Publishing. p. 28. ISBN 9780828001199.
  13. Dudley, Charles E. Sr. (1999). The genealogy of Ellen Gould Harmon White: the prophetess of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and the story of the growth and development of the Seventh-Day Adventist denomination as it relates to African-Americans. Dudley Pub. Services, 1999 – 172 pages. ISBN 978-0-9670271-0-4. Retrieved March 12, 2011.
  14. Joslyn, Roger D. (May 21, 1973). "Gould Ancestry of Ellen Gould (Harmon) White". Australasian Union Record. Ellen G. White Estate: 5. Retrieved March 12, 2011.
  15. "Review and Herald". Review and Herald publishing. November 25, 1884: paragraph 2. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  16. Burt, Merlin. "Adventist Review Online | with All Our Might". Archived from the original on January 3, 2016. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  17. Merlin D. Burt (1998). Ellen G. Harmon's Three Step Conversion Between 1836 and 1843 and the Harmon Family Methodist Experience. Term paper, Andrews University.
  18. Life Sketches, 1880 edition, 126, 127.
  19. "James and Ellen White family burial place in Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek, Michigan". Digital Archives. Loma Linda University. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  20. Graybill 1994.
  21. Adventist History Library's Ellen White's First Vision includes the various printed editions of her first vision.
  22. "The "Great Controversy" Vision". White Estate. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  23. White 1985, pp. 122–123.
  24. White 1985, p. 92.
  25. Laaka, Juliette (April 17, 2018). "'Spirits' remain as South Portland's former Griffin Club disappears". Press Herald. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  26. White, Arthur L. 1985, "Chapter 7 – (1846–1847) Entering Marriage Life", Ellen G. White: The Early Years, Vol. 1 1827–1862, page 56
  27. White, Arthur L. 1985, "Chapter 7 – (1846–1847) Entering Marriage Life", Ellen G. White: The Early Years, Vol. 1 1827–1862, page 57
  28. Godfrey T. Anderson, "Sectarianism and Organisation, 1846–1864," in Adventism in America: a History, ed. Gary Land (Berrien Springs: Andrews University Press, 1998), 31.
  29. Merlin D. Burt, "The Historical Background, Interconnected Development, and Integration of the Doctrines of the Heavenly Sanctuary, the Sabbath, and Ellen G. White's Role in Sabbatarian Adventism from 1844–1849", PhD, Andrews University, 2002, 170.
  30. "EllenWhite.Org Website - A Vision of 1863 (DF 127)". ellenwhite.org. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  31. Genesis 1:29
  32. Kamila, Avery Yale (February 20, 2022). "Vegan Kitchen: Nearly 150 years ago, a Seventh Day Adventist leader had a vision about vegetarianism". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved March 10, 2022.
  33. "Ellen G. White and vegetarianism". www.ministrymagazine.org. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  34. White, Arthur L. 1985, "Chapter 7 – (1846–1847) Entering Marriage Life", Ellen G. White: The Early Years, Vol. 1 1827–1862, page 63
  35. Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church Vol.1, (1855–1868)
  36. "The Day-Star -- Ellen G. White Writings". text.egwwritings.org.
  37. Nix, James R. (December 4, 1986). "The third prophet spoke forth". Adventist Review. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald. 163: 22. ISSN 0161-1119. Archived from the original (DjVu) on May 22, 2011. Retrieved April 15, 2008.
  38. Ellen G. White (1860). My Christian Experience, Views, And Labors In Connection With The Rise And Progress Of The Third Angel's Message. James White.
  39. See Horace Shaw's doctoral dissertation, "A Rhetorical Analysis of the Speaking of Mrs. Ellen G. White, A Pioneer Leader and Spokeswoman of the Seventh-day Adventist Church" (Michigan State University, 1959), p282.
  40. Chapter 12: "The Sought-for Speaker" in Messenger of the Lord by Herbert Douglass
  41. See Walking With Ellen White: The Human Interest Story by George R. Knight. http://h0bbes.wordpress.com/2008/11/05/ellen-white-the-real-human-being/
  42. Life With My Mother-in-law: An interview with Ethel May Lacey White Currow" DjVu by Ed Christian. Her grandson Arthur L. White recounts happy childhood memories of her
  43. "My soul was daily drinking rich draughts of salvation. I thought that those who loved Jesus would love His coming, so went to the class meeting and told them what Jesus had done for me and what a fullness I enjoyed through believing that the Lord was coming. The class leader interrupted me, saying, "Through Methodism"; but I could not give the glory to Methodism when it was Christ and the hope of His soon coming that had made me free." Early Writings Pg. 13
  44. "A Word to the Little Flock, Ellen White's portion". www.earlysda.com.
  45. http://www.andrews.edu/~jmoon/Documents/GSEM_534/Class_outline/08.pdf
  46. Arthur Patrick, "An Adventist and an Evangelical in Australia? The Case of Ellen White In The 1890s." in Lucas: An Evangelical History Review No. 12, December 1991
  47. Bull, Malcolm; Lockhart, Keith (2007). "The Divine Realm". Seeking a Sanctuary: Seventh-day Adventism and the American Dream. Indiana University Press. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-253-34764-0. With Adventism's most articulate spokesmen so implacably opposed to the doctrine of the Trinity, it is unsurprising that one researcher was forced to conclude that he was "unable to discover any evidence that 'many were Trinitarians' before 1898, nor has there been found any Trinitarian declaration written, prior to that date, by an Adventist writer other than Ellen G. White."46 But even this is an overstatement. Although not actively anti-Trinitarian, Ellen White always carefully avoided using the term "Trinity," and her husband stated categorically that her visions did not support the Trinitarian creed.47
  48. Guy, Fritz (April 11, 2014). "Theology". In Dopp Aamodt, Terrie; Land, Gary; Numbers, Ronald L. (eds.). Ellen Harmon White: American Prophet. Oxford University Press. pp. 144–145. ISBN 978-0-19-937387-1. Strictly speaking, very seldom did Ellen White "do theology." That is, she did not ordinarily do what professional theologians typically do. She did not produce a book of or about theology. She did not think, speak, and write in theological language. ... She did not elaborate a particular doctrine of the Trinity, atonement, God and time, or free will. She did not explain the precise meaning and broader implications of her own language and ideas, nor did she always use her theological vocabulary consistently. She did not endeavor to explain verbal or conceptual inconsistencies—either those of Scripture or her own—or to reduce the tensions inherent in her overall theological understanding.
  49. Bull, Malcolm; Lockhart, Keith (2007). "The Divine Realm". Seeking a Sanctuary: Seventh-day Adventism and the American Dream. Indiana University Press. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-253-34764-0. Retrieved March 7, 2022. but in her version of the event that destroyed the unity of the divine realm—the rebellion of Satan. As White related in the Spirit of Prophecy, the devil's revolt against divine law came about precisely because Satan was unwilling to accept Jesus' position in the heavenly hierarchy. At that time Satan, who was then known as Lucifer, was "a high and exalted angel, next in honor to God's dear Son."13 It was an arrangement with which he had been happy, according to White, until a primordial ceremony formalized the supremacy of Jesus: "The Father then made known that it was ordained by himself that Christ, his Son, should be equal with himself."14 However, Satan believed that this decision had been taken without prior consultation, and he convened a meeting of the angels to air his grievances. A ruler had now been appointed over them, he said, and "he would no longer submit to this invasion of his rights and theirs."15
  50. "Andrews University Seminary Studies: Trinity Debate Part 1". www.sdanet.org. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  51. White, Ellen. The Desire of Ages. pp. 669–671.
  52. White, Ellen G. (September 1872). "Proper Education" (PDF). The Health Reformer. Battle Creek, Michigan: The Health Reform Institute. 7 (9): 284–286 (electronic 28–30). Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  53. "Adventist seminar to offer health tips". Arkansas Online. February 12, 2022. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  54. "Battle Creek Sanitarium, Early Health Spa | Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved February 6, 2022.
  55. "City of Loma Linda - Our History". The City of Loma Linda, California. 2018. Retrieved February 6, 2022.
  56. "History of Cereal with Breakfast Recipes | History Kitchen". PBS Food. November 29, 2012. Retrieved March 3, 2022.
  57. Whitman, Jake (September 2, 2020). "Take it from the 'Blue Zones': Diet, human connection as important as ever". news.yahoo.com. Retrieved February 6, 2022.
  58. Randall, Rebecca. "Many Adventists in Asia and Africa Believe You Must Be Vegan to Be Saved". Christianity Today. Retrieved February 7, 2022.
  59. Lestar, Tamas. "Why Seventh-day Adventists are so often vegan or vegetarian". The Conversation. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  60. Lemos, Felipe; McChesney, Andrew (May 20, 2016). "Ellen White Among Most-Read Authors in Brazil". Adventist Review. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  61. CRI Journal – CRJ0005B
  62. Meeting Ellen White: a fresh look at her life, writings, and major themes by George R. Knight
  63. Adventist ABC Bookstore Last Day Events Archived September 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  64. Pelzer, Kelsey (January 29, 2022). "Have You Found the Real Deal? 100 Deep Love Quotes To Cherish Always and Forever". Parade: Entertainment, Recipes, Health, Life, Holidays. Retrieved February 6, 2022.
  65. "Messenger of the Lord". m.egwwritings.org.
  66. Atwood, Wayne. "Home".
  67. "Elmshaven Historical Home". www.discoverelmshaven.org.
  68. "Ellen G. White®: A Brief Biography". Whiteestate.org. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  69. "Restored Ellen G. White Home in Australia Is Open to Visitors Again | Adventist Review". adventistreview.org. July 2, 2021. Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  70. EUDNews, HopeMedia Italia. "Florence, Italy names a street after Ellen G. White". Adventist News Network. Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  71. Kamila, Avery Yale (February 20, 2022). "Vegan Kitchen: Nearly 150 years ago, a Seventh Day Adventist leader had a vision about vegetarianism". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved March 11, 2022.
  72. "Maranatha Restaurant - where healthy food meets wholesome desires". jamaica-gleaner.com. June 24, 2021. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  73. "'Replacing meat with highly processed food would repeat the health disasters of the 1970s'". Beef Central. December 10, 2021. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  74. "Life Sketches of Ellen G. White".
  75. "Life Sketches of Ellen G. White".
  76. Jerry Moon Faculty bio at Andrews University
  77. Denis Fortin Faculty bio at Andrews University
  78. "PUC theater turns attention to school's founder, Ellen White". Napa Valley Register. March 1, 2007. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
  79. "Red Books: Our Search for Ellen White. Reviewed by Adrian Zytkoskee". Archived from the original on July 7, 2010.
  80. "Tell the World". Official website of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  81. "About the Film, Tell the World". Official Site of the Seventh-day Adventist world church. General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  82. Samples, Kenneth (2007). "Evangelical Reflections on Seventh-day Adventism: Yesterday and Today Archived July 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine." Questions on Doctrine 50th anniversary conference
  83. "Seventh-day Adventist 28 Fundamental Beliefs" (PDF). Official Site of the Seventh-day Adventist world church. General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  84. Team, Adventist org. "What do Seventh Day Adventists Really Believe?". Adventist.org.
  85. Numbers, Ronald L. (2008) [1976]. "Short Skirts and Sex". Prophetess of health: a study of Ellen G. White (3rd ed.). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. pp. 207–218. ISBN 978-0-8028-0395-5. Retrieved June 30, 2011. Ellen White followed another well-marked trail when she ventured into the potentially hazardous field of sex. From the appearance of Sylvester Graham's Lecture to Young Men on Chastity in 1834 this subject had played an integral and highly visible role in health-reform literature. Alcott, Coles, Trail, and Jackson, among others, had all spoken out on the dangers of what they regarded as excessive or abnormal sexual activities, particularly masturbation, which was thought to cause a frightening array of pathological conditions ranging from dyspepsia and consumption to insanity and loss of spirituality. By carefully couching their appeal in humanitarian terms, they had largely avoided offending the sensibilities of a prudish public. Theirs was a genuinely moral crusade against what Jackson called "the great, crying sin of our time."
  86. Numbers (2008:213–214)
  87. Numbers (2008:211)
  88. The Staff of the Ellen G. White Estate A Critique of the Book Prophetess of Health, 2008. Upon the criticism of Mrs. White's views on masturbation see p. 72 of the publication.
  89. The Staff of the Ellen G. White Estate A Critique of the Book Prophetess of Health, third edition (2008), p. 9
  90. Coon, Roger. "Ellen G. White: The Person. The Human-Interest Story". Andrews University. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  91. "Ellen G. White® Estate: The Truth About "The White Lie"". whiteestate.org. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  92. "Was Ellen G. White a Plagiarist?".
  93. "Ellen G. White® Estate: The Ramik Report: Memorandum of Law Literary Propert Rights 1790-1915". whiteestate.org. Archived from the original on December 14, 2007.
  94. Veltman, Fred. "Life of Christ Research Project".
  95. Veltman, Fred (1988). Life of Christ Research Project. p. 882.
  96. General Conference Archives Archived 2010-07-15 at the Wayback Machine of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
  97. Ellen G. White as a Writer: Part III – The Issue of Literary Borrowing
  98. "INDEX FILES on Charge of Plagiarism against E.G.White". dedication.www3.50megs.com.
  99. Ellen G. White as a Writer: Case Studies in the Issue of Literary Borrowing
  100. "Untitled Document". www.andrews.edu.
  101. E. Marcella Anderson King; Kevin L. Morgan (2009). More Than Words: A Study of Inspiration and Ellen White's Use of Sources in The Desire of Ages. Honor Him Publishers.
  102. "Was Ellen G. White A Plagiarist?". Ellen G. White Writings. Retrieved October 28, 2018. Ellen G. White was not a plagiarist and her works did not constitute copyright infringement/piracy.
  103. Ellen G. White. The Conflict of the Ages Story, Vol. 5. The Great Controversy—Illustrated. Digital Inspiration. p. 16. The great events which have marked the progress of reform in past ages are matters of history, well known and universally acknowledged by the Protestant world; they are facts which none can gainsay. This history I have presented briefly, in accordance with the scope of the book, and the brevity which must necessarily be observed, the facts having been condensed into as little space as seemed consistent with a proper understanding of their application. In some cases where a historian has so grouped together events as to afford, in brief, a comprehensive view of the subject, or has summarized details in a convenient manner, his words have been quoted; but in some instances no specific credit has been given, since the quotations are not given for the purpose of citing that writer as authority, but because his statement affords a ready and forcible presentation of the subject. In narrating the experience and views of those carrying forward the work of reform in our own time, similar use has been made of their published works. Cf. The Great Controversy, p. xi.4 1911 edition.
  104. McArthur (2008: 48). Quote: "Rather, he was always at pains to emphasize that Mrs. White herself acknowledged indebtedness in the book's Introduction:"
  105. McArthur, Benjamin (Spring 2008). "Point of the Spear: Adventist Liberalism and the Study of Ellen White in the 1970s" (PDF). Spectrum. 36 (2): 45, 53. ISSN 0890-0264. Retrieved July 1, 2019. If acceptance of her literary borrowing is now a commonplace, it is only so because of some excellent research accomplished by Adventist scholars in the 1970s and 1980s.
  106. "Untitled Document". Andrews University. February 18, 2009. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
  107. Willey, T. Joe (January 5, 2017). "The Great Controversy Over Plagiary: The Last Interview of Walter Rea". spectrummagazine.org. Retrieved April 3, 2020.
  108. White, Ellen G. (1855). Sketches from the Life of Paul. Hagerstown, Maryland: Review & Herald.
  109. Stewart, Charles E. (May 8, 1907). "A Response to an Urgent Testimony from Mrs. Ellen G. White". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  110. "Is Mrs. E. G. White a Plagiarist?". Healdsburg Enterprise: 1, 4–6. March 20, 1889.

Further reading

  • Aamodt, Terrie Dopp, Gary Land, and Ronald L. Numbers, eds. Ellen Harmon White: American Prophet (Oxford University Press, 2014) 365 pp. essays by independent scholars
  • Balmer, Randall (2002). "White, Ellen Gould (née Harmon)". Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism. Westminster: John Knox Press. pp. 614–15.
  • Butler, Jonathan M. (Winter 1991). "Prophecy, Gender, and Culture: Ellen Gould Harmon [White] and the Roots of Seventh-day Adventism". Religion and American Culture. 1 (1): 3–29. doi:10.1525/rac.1991.1.1.03a00020.
  • Campbell, Michael W. (2013). Ellen White and the Gift of Prophecy: An Introduction to Her Prophetic Life and Ministry. Lincoln, Nebraska: AdventSource.
  • Douglass, Herbert E. (2010). The Heartbeat of Adventism, the Great Controversy Theme in the Writings of Ellen White (PDF). Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association. p. 416. ISBN 978-0-8163-2458-3. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 6, 2011. Retrieved December 13, 2011.
  • Fortin, Denis; Moon, Jerry, eds. (2014). The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald.
  • Graham, R. E. (1985). Ellen G. White, Cofounder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. New York: Peter Lang.
  • Graybill, Ronald (1983). The Power of Prophecy: Ellen G. White and Women Religious Founders of the Nineteenth Century (Ph.D. diss.). The Johns Hopkins University.
  • Graybill, Ron (February 1994). "Visions and Revisions, Part 1". Ministry Magazine. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved March 13, 2011. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Land, Gary (ed.). The World of Ellen G. White. a historical background to White's writings without critically comparing the two.
  • Martin, Walter (1965). The Kingdom of the Cults. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany Fellowship. p. 379.
  • Trenchard, Warren C. (September 2022). "The Biblical Fiction of Ellen White". Spectrum. 50 (3).
  • White, Arthur L. (1985). ""Chapter 7 – (1846–1847) Entering Marriage Life"". Ellen G. White: The Early Years, 1827–1862. Vol. 1. Ellen G. White Estate.
  • White, Arthur L. (August 2000). "Ellen G. White: A Brief Biography". Ellen G. White Estate.

Writings online

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