Messenger of the Lord


Areas of Concern Involving the Files of Ellen White’s Writings

The “Z” file. In the White Estate vault there are 120 file drawers containing about 50,000 pages of typewritten documents. For several decades two of those drawers were commonly referred to as the “Z” file. While accessible to responsible researchers, these documents were segregated from the general file to remind the staff that they dealt with especially personal matters. MOL 483.4

Over the years W. C. White and, later, Arthur L. White, placed in the “Z” file highly sensitive materials such as references to adultery and/or other difficult episodes that had potential to embarrass certain living individuals and family members. Ellen White counseled on several occasions against publishing the deficiencies of others, especially the leading workers: “The Lord by His power [through her writings] revealed the mistakes and errors that the brethren were committing, and those souls who had sincere love for God opened their minds and hearts to receive the light that was sent of God, and He forgave the mistakes they made, and through His great mercy cast their mistakes and errors into the depths of the sea. Now since God has thus covered their errors, who will presume to uncover them, and to present them to the world? Who has authorized anyone to present God’s chosen, adopted children to the world, clothed in a robe of darkness?” 49 MOL 483.5

Ellen White well knew the problems of misinformation caused by references removed from context. 50 She did her best to protect others who had been falsely accused or maligned. In a letter to a prominent minister, she laid out the problem clearly: “It is possible to relate that which has happened in connection with the past experiences of the people of God, and so relate it as to make their experience assume a ludicrous and objectionable appearance. It is not fair to take certain features of the work and set them apart from the great whole. A mixture of truth and error may be presented in so doing.” MOL 483.6

Continuing in that letter, she wrote: “You have made public the errors and defects of the people of God, and in so doing have dishonored God and Jesus Christ. I would not for my right arm have given to the world that which you have written.... You have given but a partial view; for you have not presented the fact that the power of God worked in connection with their labors, even though they made some mistakes.... God will charge those who unwisely expose the mistakes of their brethren with sin of far greater magnitude than He will charge the one who makes a misstep.” 51 MOL 484.1

The Board of Trustees in 1987 voted to discontinue this file and include all of its contents in the regular file. This decision was made in light of today’s climate of research and the passage of time in relation to the principals mentioned in the file. Further, the Board has voted to publish all of Ellen White’s available correspondence on a CD-ROM. MOL 484.2