Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years: 1862-1876 (vol. 2)


Chapter 13—(1867) Advancement in Health Reform

Health reform, as initiated among Seventh-day Adventists by the vision of June 6, 1863, had many facets. Some people grasped the various elements and rather promptly brought about changes in their way of life. This was so with farmer Joseph Clarke, a frequent contributor to the Review, whose experience was published in the issue of March 27, 1866. With many others, changes were made more slowly or not at all. The six How to Live pamphlets, each with an article from the pen of Ellen White, were widely distributed and were instrumental in advancing reform, particularly in diet. 2BIO 176.1

Her article in Number 6 was devoted to women's dress. It set forth general principles that would aid in adopting a modest, healthful style of dress. It supported efforts to lead women away from tight-fitting garments, heavy, long skirts, and hoop skirts with features that flouted modesty. 2BIO 176.2

At the 1866 General Conference session, strong resolutions favoring reform and calling for the establishing of a health institution were adopted. Shortly thereafter the Western Health Reform Institute was opened in Battle Creek, and steps were taken to produce a practical medical book that would instruct and guide along the lines of health principles. [The physicians at the institute assigned this task to J. N. Loughborough, who had led out in the establishment of the institution. The manuscript, prepared in counsel with the institute physicians, was more than a year in preparation and yielded a 205-page book, compiled largely from standard medical works. Titled Handbook of Health; or a brief treatise on Physiology and Hygiene, It was published in early 1868.] At the next General Conference session, 1867, several resolutions were adopted urging the acceptance of health reform as a part of the work of preparing for the judgment. Other resolutions called for simplicity in dress, and recommended the “reformed dress.” One called for support of the Health Institute, “that this may be enlarged to meet the wants of its patients.” The institute was asked to issue a book “on the structure, functions, and care of the human system.” Loughborough was already working on the manuscript for this. 2BIO 176.3

As noted earlier, in December, 1866, James and Ellen White left Battle Creek and traveled to Wright, Michigan. At the church service on the first Sabbath they were pressed with questions on features of the health reform and especially the reform dress. The report of the meeting states: 2BIO 177.1

Through wrong teaching and misunderstanding, some had become prejudiced and were ready to oppose almost anything that might be said on the subject. Their principal objections were on diet and dress; and instead of receiving what had been written upon these subjects, they were disposed to take the position that there was not full harmony in Mrs. White's testimony, especially on dress; but as she was present to speak for herself, she was able to show a perfect harmony in her testimonies.—Ibid., January 15, 1867 2BIO 177.2

Ellen White took more than an hour that Sabbath morning explaining and answering questions, and continued in the afternoon. Similar questions were asked in the meetings that followed on Tuesday and Friday evenings. James reported that “we enjoy their fullest sympathy, and while our mouth is opened anew to speak to them, their ears are opened to hear.”—Ibid., January 22, 1867. In the weeks that followed, the believers in other places asked the same questions that were put to them at Wright. 2BIO 177.3