The Ellen G. White Letters and Manuscripts: Volume 1


Introductory Articles

Series Introduction

For millions of readers Ellen G. White is best known through her published works, works that include such spiritual classics as The Desire of Ages and Steps to Christ. The latter volume has circulated in the tens of millions and has been translated into more than 165 languages since it was first published in 1892. But what is not as well known is that much of the writing in both Steps to Christ and The Desire of Ages originated in letters of heart-stirring appeal to real people who were the beneficiaries of Ellen White's evangelistic fervor. Sentences that many have committed to memory because of their faith-inspiring insights were first penned in the context of personal letters providing hope, encouragement, and timely counsel. 1EGWLM 11.1

Today we benefit from the works Ellen White produced over the course of her 70-year ministry in which she preserved the core themes of her messages. In addition, compilations published by the Ellen G. White Estate, as she called for in her will, provide a rich spectrum of topical instruction. But in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Ellen White's contemporaries also benefited from interacting with her through correspondence, speaking appointments, and visitation. 1EGWLM 11.2

Ellen White was more than an author. She was a wife, a mother, an evangelist, a much-sought-after counselor. She had relatives to care for, homes to keep in order, gardens to tend, and bills to pay. She experienced the miserable ailments common to an age predating central heating, air-conditioning, and over-the-counter pain relievers. She traveled for days in cramped, tobacco-smoke-filled railroad cars, which was arguably better than traveling for weeks by horse-drawn carriage. And she knew the life-shattering pain of losing a spouse and two children to sickness and death. 1EGWLM 11.3

But Ellen White did not live in only a three-dimensional world. The call she received at age 17 compelled her to view every aspect of life in the fuller light of eternity. This is why she agreed to speak to eager audiences when she didn't know if she could stand on her feet, why she wrote letters at 2:00 in the morning, and why public criticism and personal rebuffs did not induce her to hold back or water down her testimonies. 1EGWLM 11.4

Ellen White's letters and manuscripts give us more than a window into the daily life of a remarkable nineteenth-century female author and religious leader. Those who are convinced of the genuineness of her prophetic claims find in these unpublished writings insights and principles that continue to speak to our generation, even though the original historical setting must guide our interpretation and application (see the introductory article “Interpreting Ellen G. White's Letters and Manuscripts”). 1EGWLM 11.5

This series marks the first effort to publish in chronological order all of Ellen White's previously unpublished writings. Many thousands of pages have been published in various research papers, books, and compilations, but these have been topical selections. Nor have they previously appeared with historical annotations providing the reader with basic information about the persons addressed and issues raised. It is a monumental task, but like all long journeys, it can be completed only if we make a beginning. 1EGWLM 12.1

An Annotation Supervisory Committee appointed by the White Estate trustees provided guidance and set the parameters for the project. The chief annotator for the pre-1860 documents was Roland Karlman, who, until undertaking this project, served as the director of the Ellen G. White Seventh-day Adventist Research Center at Newbold College, Bracknell, Berkshire, England. The final manuscript also reflects the suggestions of specialists in Adventist history and Ellen White studies in particular, with special thanks to Denis Fortin, George Knight, Jud Lake, Allan Lindsay, Jerry Moon, and Alberto Timm, in addition to the members of the supervisory committee. 1EGWLM 12.2

It is the hope and desire of the Ellen G. White Estate that the publication of these unique materials will give a greater insight into the life of this phenomenal woman, and that readers will hear and follow the same Spirit who impelled her to commit a lifetime of service to our Lord. 1EGWLM 12.3

The Trustees of the Ellen G. White Estate
James R. Nix, President