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

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    Chapter 26—(1859) Through 1859 With Ellen White's Diary

    Ellen White would not have started to keep a diary on the first day of January, 1859, if she was not planning to publish an account of her experience. She had started on the manuscript early in 1858. A back page note in the Review and Herald in late March, in very small type, provides a clue:1BIO 394.1

    I now design publishing a book of two or three hundred pages, containing a sketch of my Christian experience up to this time, my views, and a Bible argument on the perpetuity of spiritual gifts. My friends who have received letters from me containing views, exhortations, or a statement of events of my experience worthy of publication in such a work are invited to return them to me immediately by mail to Battle Creek, Michigan.—The Review and Herald, March 25, 1858.1BIO 394.2

    When the little book My Christian Experience, Views, and Labors came out two years later, she mentioned that in its preparation she had to depend in many instances on her memory, for she had not kept a “journal,” but the letters she had written that were returned to her at her request were a great help. As she endeavored to reconstruct her life story she sensed the importance of a day-by-day record of her experience and activities. She purchased a little black, leather-bound diary, lightly lined and three by five inches in size, for this purpose. This diary is rich in the information it contains about her life and work.1BIO 394.3

    As 1859 dawned, Ellen had just turned 31; James was 37; Henry, 11; Edson, 9; and Willie, 4. They were living in a modest one-and-two-thirds-story cottage on Wood Street, facing Champion Street, in the west end of Battle Creek. Recently two major additions had been made to the house, one on the south side, the other on the north side. Ellen's father and mother were living with them. James's parents had been persuaded to leave Maine; they lived just across Wood Street in a little cottage where Grandfather White cobbled shoes. Also living with the Whites were Jennie Fraser and Adelia Patten, two young women brought into the family to carry the burdens of housework and to take charge of the children when James and Ellen White were visiting churches and holding conferences. The two older boys attended the Battle Creek public school. The publishing house on Main Street was six short blocks toward the city to the east. Across from the Review office and to the north was McCamly Park. The newly erected house of worship was just west of the park facing Washington Street and the park.1BIO 394.4

    As attested by many of the entries in the little 1859 diary and by frequent obituaries in the Review, these were times of great ignorance in health matters and in combating disease. Tuberculosis, bilious fever (appendicitis), typhoid fever, smallpox, and malaria were often listed as diseases that took the lives of many—particularly children, teenagers, and those in their 20s.1BIO 395.1

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