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Life Sketch of Ellen White
(Overview Page)

Highlights from the life of Ellen G. White

  • Ellen Gould Harmon was born in 1827 to Methodist parents at Gorham, Maine, USA.
  • At age 9, she suffered a near-fatal accident, terminating her formal education, making her a sickly child.
  • In 1840, intrigued by Baptist preacher William Miller's "Advent awakening" revival preaching, Ellen gave her heart to Jesus. Soon after, baptism and membership in the Methodist church.
  • She was deeply disappointed when Jesus did not return in 1843 and again in October 1844 as predicted by Millerites.
  • At age 17 (December 1844), she experienced her first of many visions.
  • Married evangelist James White in 1846.
  • Ellen White published her first of dozens of books, A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White in 1851. In 1888 she published her most famous book, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan; and in 1898 she published The Desire of Ages, a classic biography on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
  • In vision Mrs. White was shown various future events. For example, she was shown the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake 2 days before it took place.
  • Mrs. White continued to write and minister until she fell and broke her hip at the age of 86. She died five months later, July 16, 1915, and was buried in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Sample of Topics in the Life Sketch Section

Ellen White's Life Sketch has been organized into the following periods:

Bracket Street School where Ellen White attended.
Childhood & Conversion: Ellen White was born in late 1827. When she was nine, a devastating, disfiguring, nearly fatal accident occurred that changed the course of her life. Her health was so impaired that she could not continue her education, and was forced to give up her ambitions of becoming a scholar. [more]

Location of Miller's lectures in Portland.
William Miller gave a series of lectures in Portland, Maine, in March 1840. He was known for his powerful appeals to sinners to come to Christ, and to prepare for His soon appearing. It was these appeals that caused Ellen White to recognize her sinfulness, and to begin to seek the Savior. At a Methodist camp meeting the following summer, Ellen gave her heart to Jesus, and obtained the sweet assurance that her sins were forgiven. Joy filled her heart, and she was later baptized by immersion into the Methodist church. [more]

William Miller.
Beginning of Public Labors: Miller returned to Portland in 1842 to conduct a second series of lectures. He appealed to the hearts of professed Christians and unbelievers to prepare to meet Jesus. Preachers of the day described in detail the agonies of the lost in an eternally burning hell, which made the love and mercy of God seem too far away to young Ellen. About this time she had two dreams, the second of which gave her hope that Jesus loved her and would have mercy upon her. The encouraging words of her mother and a godly Methodist minister helped her learn to trust her loving heavenly Father, and to do His bidding, whatever it might be. Filled with joy, Ellen took advantage of every opportunity to share the love of Christ and the joy of salvation. She labored earnestly for her friends, sometimes praying all night. All but one gave their hearts to Jesus. [more]

The Methodist Church Ellen White attended.
Leaving the Methodist Church: In the Methodist "class meetings," Ellen White and her brother Robert would speak simply of their joy in the soon return of Christ. But their testimonies met with sneers. Eagerly, Ellen earned all the money she could in order to buy tracts to tell others about Jesus's coming. About this time, she discovered from her mother an interesting Bible truth that explains the resurrection. For doing nothing wrong whatsoever, Ellen and her family were removed from the membership of their Methodist Church. [more]

1843 Millerite Chart.
The Disappointment: As the time approached when Christ was expected to return, ministers of different denominations in Portland united their efforts to call sinners to repentance and to prepare for Christ's return. A deep solemnity rested upon the hearers, and many were converted. When Christ did not return by the spring of 1844, scoffers who thought Christ would not return for a thousand years grew bold. But a mistake had been made. Since the decree of Artaxerxes' seventh year went forth late in 457 BC, the 2300 years of Daniel 8:14 could not end until the fall of 1844. When Christ did not return at that time either, many former believers joined with the orthodox churches and worldlings in denouncing the idea that Christ's coming was soon.   [more]

Earliest photograph of the Whites.

Beginning of Ministry: Ellen White experienced a vision at this time, her first of many. This vision was a great encouragement to the Advent believers, for it affirmed their belief in the imminent return of Christ. [more] God called Ellen to travel and share this vision, but she feared that she might become self-exalted. Lacking self-confidence and fearful of ridicule, she hesitated, but she eventually went forward in faith. [more] Another vision of the earth made new depicted the Bible's glorious description of that better land. [more] Ellen White was often called upon to rebuke fanatics, including some who thought it a sin to work, and those who were setting dates for the Lord to come. It was not easy for her to tell the erring what had been revealed to her about them. [more] In 1846, Ellen married James White. It was also in that year that they both began to observe the Bible Sabbath. Poverty and perils, sufferings, trials, and sickness were their lot in those early days. [more]

Ministry Expands: In 1849 the paper that became known as The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald was launched. Two years later, the first of many books was published.[more]   When the work moved to Michigan in 1855, it was at a low point. But things began to turn around. James White's health and finances improved, and The Messenger "went down." [more] It was a great trial for Ellen White to be gone from her children so much in those early years, and a great sorrow when the youngest and oldest of the four died in 1860 and 1863. [more]   James suffered a paralyzing stroke in 1865, but miraculously recovered and began to labor for the cause of God again. [more]  

Publisher's Note: The "Life Sketch" section presents excerpts excerpts from biographies of Ellen White and from narratives of Ellen White's own story as published in her autobiographical writings. These are posted on the EllenWhite.info website without comment. The opinions of Ellen White's critics are examined in the Criticisms & Critics section of the website.

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