Ellen G. White: The Early Years: 1827-1862 (vol. 1)


Ellen G. White: Volume 1—The Early Years: 1827-1862

About the Author

Arthur Lacey White, one of seven grandchildren of James and Ellen White, was born to William C. (Willie) and Ethel May White on October 6, 1907. He grew up in picturesque Pratt Valley, just below the St. Helena Sanitarium in Northern California. This small valley cradled not only the W. C. White home but Elmshaven, the home of Ellen White, and several others. Arthur attended the nearby ten-grade church school and then continued his education at Pacific Union College. He received a certificate in business administration in 1928 and that same year was united in marriage with a classmate, Frieda Belle Swingle. The newlyweds moved to Madison College in Tennessee, he to serve as assistant accountant and she as secretary to college and hospital personnel. 1BIO 7.1

The following year Arthur was called to the office of the Ellen G. White Estate at Elmshaven to serve as accountant and general assistant to his 74-year-old father. The latter was one of five church leaders appointed by Ellen White in her will to administer her estate; when Arthur joined him in 1929 he was secretary of the Board of Trustees. During the next nine years Arthur was given increasing responsibilities, and in 1933 he was appointed assistant secretary of the Board. Shortly after the death of W. C. White at the age of 83, in late 1937, Arthur was elected as a life member of the board and secretary of the Estate, a position he held for forty-one years. 1BIO 7.2

On the death of his father, in harmony with plans of long standing, Arthur supervised the immediate transfer of the office and E. G. White files to the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Washington, D.C. Principal tasks included working with the world field in the development of the available Spirit of Prophecy literature and assembling E. G. White materials for publication, in compilations such as Evangelism, The Adventist Home, and Selected Messages, climaxed by the three-volume Comprehensive Index to the Writings of Ellen G. White. 1BIO 7.3

With the development of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Arthur White was drawn into a teaching program in Washington, Berrien Springs, and overseas. He taught in thirteen overseas Seminary Extension Schools. As secretary of the White Estate he also wrote many periodical articles and produced substantial monographs dealing with various matters relating to Ellen White and her teachings. In 1973 Andrews University conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. 1BIO 8.1

In 1966 the Board of Trustees, in counsel with the General Conference officers, asked Arthur White to author a definitive biography of Ellen White. Hesitant because of his personal relationship to the subject of the biography, but conditioned by his stance taken early in his ministry that he would relate to Ellen White as would any other loyal Seventh-day Adventist, viewing her as “Sister White” and not as “my grandmother,” he accepted the assignment. In 1978 he resigned as secretary of the Ellen G. White Estate to devote his energies almost exclusively to the biography project. Adhering to a careful schedule, he produced one volume each year, doing his work largely in his study at home, where he could give undivided attention to research and writing while at the same time maintaining easy access to the rich sources in the White Estate vault. 1BIO 8.2

The foundations of the Seventh-day Adventist Church had been quite well established by the early 1860s, the time with which this volume opens. The doctrinal structure was well formed, each major point having been dug from the word of God and its certainty attested to by the Spirit of God. The battle for church organization had been fought and largely won. 1BIO 8.3

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