Harmon was born in Gorham, Maine, November 26, 1827, to Robert and Eunice
Harmon. She and her twin sister Elizabeth were the youngest of eight
children. When Ellen was in her early teens she and her family accepted
the Biblical interpretations of the Baptist farmer-turned preacher,
William Miller. With Miller and 50,000 other Adventists she suffered
bitter disappointment when Christ did not return on October 22, 1844, the
date marking the end of the 2300-day prophecy of Daniel 8.
1844, God gave Ellen the first of an estimated 2,000 visions and dreams.
In August, 1846, she married James White, a 25-year-old Adventist minister
who shared her conviction that God had called her to do the work of a
prophet. Soon after their marriage James and Ellen began to keep the
seventh-day Sabbath, according to the fourth commandment.
of four boys, Ellen experienced the pain of losing by death two of her
sons. Herbert died when he was an infant of few weeks, and Henry died when
he was 16. Her other two sons, Edson and William, both became Adventist
was a prolific writer. Beginning in 1851, when she published her first
book, she sent forth a steady stream of articles, books, and pamphlets. Of
her scores of books, some are devotional in nature, while others are
selections from the many personal letters of counsel she wrote over the
years. Still others are historical and trace the ongoing struggle between
Christ and Satan for control of individuals and nations. She also
published books on education, health and other topics of special
significance to the church. Since her death about 50 compilations have
been produced, in large part from previously unpublished writings. She
also authored several thousand articles which were published over the
years in the Review and Herald, Signs of the Times, and other
Seventh-day Adventist periodicals.
In spite of
her initial shyness and reluctance, Ellen White eventually became a very
popular public speaker, not only in the United States, but in Europe and
Australia as well. She was much in demand, not only at Adventist meetings,
but also before non-Adventist audiences, where she was a much-sought-after
lecturer on temperance. In 1876, she addressed her largest
audience—estimated at 20,000—at Groveland, Massachusetts, for more than an
hour without the aid of a microphone.
vision of June 6, 1863, Ellen White was given instruction on such
health-related matters as the use of drugs, tobacco, coffee, flesh foods,
and the importance of exercise, sunshine, fresh air, and self control in
diet. Her health counsels, based on this and subsequent visions, have
provided Adventists with a lifestyle which has resulted in their living
approximately seven years longer than the average person in the United
read widely. She found that reading other authors helped her in her own
writing as she presented the truth revealed to her in vision. Also, the
Holy Spirit impressed her at times to draw into her own articles and books
literary gems from the works of others. She did not claim infallibility
nor did she maintain that her writings were equal to Scripture, yet she
firmly believed that her visions were of divine origin, and that her
articles and books were produced under the guidance of the Spirit of God.
Basically an evangelist, her primary concern in life was the salvation of
was a generous person, and set a good example of practical Christianity.
For years she kept bolts of cloth on hand so that if she saw a woman who
needed a new dress, she would be able to provide assistance. In Battle
Creek she attended auctions and bought pieces of used furniture, which she
stored; then if someone’s home burned or some other calamity befell a
family, she was prepared to help. In the days before the church started
its retirement plan, if she heard of an older minister who was in
financial straits, she would send a little money to help him meet his
died July 16, 1915. For seventy years she faithfully delivered the
messages God gave her for His people. She never was elected to an office
in the church, yet her advice was constantly sought by denominational
leaders. She did not attend school beyond the age of nine, yet her
messages set in motion the forces that produced the present world-wide
Adventist education system—from day-care centres to universities. Though
she herself had no medical training, the fruitage of her ministry can be
seen in the network of Adventist hospitals, clinics, and medical
facilities that circle the earth. And though she was not formally ordained
as a gospel minister, she has made an almost unparalleled spiritual impact
on the lives of millions, from one end of the earth to the other.
The E. G.
White books continue to this day to help people find their Saviour,
accept His pardon for their sins, share this blessings with others, and
live expectantly in hope of His promised soon return.