The Ellen G. White Letters and Manuscripts: Volume 1


Appendix A: Unauthenticated Visions Attributed to Ellen G. White

The Ellen G. White Estate has identified five documents of uncertain origin purporting to be accounts of visions Ellen White received between the dates of March 1850 and March 1852. The term apocryphal has sometimes been applied to these unauthenticated documents. Even in her own day, Ellen White met unfounded reports, garbled testimonies, and misstatements regarding what she had actually said or written, as evidenced by her comments published in Testimonies for the Church (vol. 5, pp. 692-696) and Testimonies to Ministers (p. 57). 1EGWLM 914.1

In 1931 these and other unauthenticated documents were transferred to the Ellen G. White Estate Document File No. 103 to distinguish them from the regular manuscript file for one or more of the following reasons: 1EGWLM 914.2

1. They were of uncertain origin, meaning that no Ellen White handwritten original was known to exist. The copies were derived from secondhand or thirdhand sources, and/or supportive records were lacking. 1EGWLM 914.3

2. Their dating conflicted with known itineraries or was otherwise unverifiable. 1EGWLM 914.4

3. They contained unusual or questionable content when compared with authenticated documents. 1EGWLM 914.5

In 1956, when asked about the authenticity of one of these accounts, Arthur L. White, then secretary of the Ellen G. White Estate, replied, “We can neither attest to its accuracy nor can we say positively that certain elements were not based on something Ellen White wrote” (A. L. White to M. D. Lewis, Oct. 23, 1956). This more or less described the official status of these documents until 1987, when the White Estate staff restudied the collection, evaluated the evidence for and against each record, and compared the content and language of the disputed visions with a computer database of Ellen White's authentic writings. 1EGWLM 914.6

The White Estate recognized that the mere absence of an Ellen White original does not necessarily discredit the authenticity of a vision. Yet it was decided that if there was reliable evidence to accept the essential content of any of these visions, a disclaimer relating to the accuracy of expression or wording should accompany the account, since only copies exist (and often with numerous variants). 1EGWLM 914.7

The five remaining unauthenticated visions are listed below, with brief summaries of their content and current White Estate evaluations: 1EGWLM 914.8

Ms 1, 1850—April 15, no year given, circa 1849-1851, Dartmouth, Massachusetts, at the home of Richard Ashley. A description of “the state of the churches” and a call to “come out of her, my people.” Evaluation: No Ellen White original exists, and no supporting evidence has been found. The account remains unauthenticated. 1EGWLM 915.1

Ms 8, 1850—August 24, 1850, no place given; concerns the need for rebaptism of believers since 1844. Evaluation: No Ellen White original exists, and 10 variants are known. All but half a sentence of the text is found in other authenticated Ellen White writings under dates of July 29 (Ms 5, 1850) and August 4 (or 24), 1850 (Ms 7 [7a], 1850, and Early Writings, pp. 59, 60; Christian Experience and Views, pp. 47, 48), to which the reader is referred. 1EGWLM 915.2

Ms 9, 1850—October 23, 1850, Dorchester, Massachusetts; describes the “gathering time,” the 1843 chart, and the future Sabbath conflict. Evaluation: No Ellen White original exists. Fifteen variants are known. Ellen White was in Dorchester on this date. Almost the entire first paragraph appears in Present Truth, November 1850, under the date of September 23, 1850, and all but three sentences are found in Ms 15, 1850, to which the reader is referred as a more reliable account of the vision. 1EGWLM 915.3

Ms 3, 1851—April 27, 1851, Paris, Maine; a series of phrases apparently spoken in vision as reported by an unidentified observer. Evaluation: There is no supporting evidence for a vision on this date. It is probable, however, that the account represents notes taken by one who witnessed the vision. The account remains unauthenticated. 1EGWLM 915.4

Ms 1a, 1851—June 29, 1851, Camden, New York; concerns the relationship between God's people and the ungodly. Evaluation: No Ellen White original exists. The vision has long been disputed because of its strong shut-door sentiments. (See entry “Camden Vision” in The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia.) Two variants are known. The date conflicts with Ellen White's itinerary, as records indicate that the Whites were in Camden only from June 18 to June 23 (see itinerary published in Review and Herald, June 9, 1851). The only source for the vision is a copy provided by R. R. Chapin, one of Ellen White's opposers. Uriah Smith responded to controversial phrases cited from the “Camden vision” in The Visions: Objections Answered (1868), suggesting that he might have accepted the authenticity of the vision, but that suggestion is tempered by his comment that he has referenced all shut-door expressions “that are claimed to have been given through any vision, either published or unpublished” (p. 28; italics supplied). Additionally, by this time (June 1851) Ellen White had abandoned the view that probation had closed for all non-Millerites—the shut door was understood to apply only to those who had willfully rejected the Second Advent message (see Lt 4, 1850 [Feb. 18], and introductory article “The ‘Shut Door’ and Ellen White's Visions”). The White Estate views the evidence currently available as insufficient to establish that the report of the purported vision is genuine. 1EGWLM 915.5