Ellen G. White: The Lonely Years: 1876-1891 (vol. 3)


Life Sketches of Elder James White and His Wife, Mrs. Ellen G. White

Ellen White's rather sudden trip to the West Coast in early 1880 precluded her pursuing her plans for Appeal to Youth. In fact, work on the project was delayed almost a year. In the meantime, James White was pulling together the materials for a 416-page volume that would have the extended title Life Sketches, Ancestry, Early Life, Christian Experience, and Extensive Labors of Elder James White and His Wife, Mrs. Ellen G. White, usually referred to just as Life Sketches, 1880 edition. It was made up of two autobiographical works edited and amplified, the 1868 book Life Incidents, by James White, and Ellen White's Spiritual Gifts,, volume II, specifically entitled My Christian Experience, Views, and Labors in Connection With the Rise and Progress of the Third Angel's Message. In the new and enlarged work, 125 pages are given to James White and almost two hundred pages to Ellen White, followed by nearly one hundred pages of material that are “sketches of the rise and progress of the cause of present truth, presenting a brief history of our publishing work, the tract work, the Sanitarium, and the college” (The Signs of the Times, July 15, 1880). 3BIO 151.1

The unique volume is described in one of the notices announcing its publication: 3BIO 151.2

Those who do not understand the history of the great Advent Movement from 1843 to the present time cannot fail to be interested and instructed by the reading of this book. It contains the only detailed account of the rise and progress of the work of the Seventh-day Adventists in the third angel's message.—Ibid., June 24, 1880 3BIO 151.3

It was one of the first volumes issued by the Review and Herald with illustrations. These consisted of steel engravings of the publishing houses east and west, the college building, Battle Creek Sanitarium, the Tabernacle, and the subjects of the biographical work, James and Ellen White. 3BIO 151.4

With the national camp meeting and the General Conference session over, Ellen White was eager to get to a book that, while it was in preparation, carried the title “Mother's Influence, or Letters to her Children by a Christian Mother.” 3BIO 151.5

Having just purchased the new brick house and settled in for a winter of writing, she hastened off letters to Oakland. One gave some insights into how she intended to work on a volume that was never finished, as well as other book manuscripts: 3BIO 152.1

We are now very busy in selecting pieces from letters. I am also writing for Signs. Mary, will you search carefully all the letters in that small trunk and send me those I may need? 3BIO 152.2

There is a book of mine in the office by Harriet Beecher Stowe, and there are books on mothers’ duties and home influences—anything of this character from which I can intersperse nice selections, with my preface or introduction, [A rather unusual procedure for Ellen White, but one that she employed while furnishing copy over a period of three years in the early 1870's for what was titled “Mrs. White's department” in the health reformer.] in regard to mothers’ duties. You will please send these books of mine that will be an assistance to me.—Letter 45c, 1880. 3BIO 152.3

But her plans for the winter's work were rudely broken on New Year's Day. Going by sleigh to a vesper meeting in the Tabernacle, she fell, tearing loose the ligaments in her ankle. 3BIO 152.4

For more than four months she was on crutches, and was quite miserable; her pen largely laid aside. She did fill a speaking appointment at the Tabernacle on Sabbath morning, January 15. Late in March she was able to resume her public ministry with services in the Tabernacle and outlying churches (The Review and Herald, January 18, 1881; Ibid., April 5, 1881; Ibid., April 12, 1881). 3BIO 152.5