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The Ellen G. White Writings

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    Mrs. White’s Literary Assistants

    There were others who were prone to say, “Well, Sister White has her editors. How can we be sure of what she did write?”EGWW 99.1

    It is true that Ellen White did have literary assistants. She valued their help highly. She wrote in a statement now in Selected Messages 1:50:EGWW 99.2

    While my husband lived, he acted as a helper and counselor in the sending out of the messages that were given to me. We traveled extensively. Sometimes light would be given to me in the night season, sometimes in the daytime before large congregations. The instruction I received in vision was faithfully written out by me, as I had time and strength for the work. Afterward we examined the matter together, my husband correcting grammatical errors and eliminating needless repetition. Then it was carefully copied for the persons addressed, or for the printers.EGWW 99.3

    Then of subsequent years she said:EGWW 99.4

    As the work grew, others assisted me in the preparation of matter for publication. After my husband’s death, faithful helpers joined me, who labored untiringly in the work of copying the testimonies and preparing articles for publication.EGWW 99.5

    But the reports that are circulated, that any of my helpers are permitted to add matter or change the meaning of the messages I write out, are not true.—Ibid.EGWW 99.6

    One faithful helper who assisted her for 25 years was Marian Davis, a sister-in-law of Will K. Kellogg of corn flake fame. On this question of the work of her assistants in helping her with preparation of her books Ellen White wrote:EGWW 99.7

    The books are not Marian’s productions, but my own, gathered from all my writings. Marian has a large field from which to draw, and her ability to arrange the matter is of great value to me. It saves my poring over a mass of matter, which I have no time to do.—Letter 61a, 1900 (quoted in Messenger to the Remnant, p. 60).EGWW 100.1

    One of Mrs. White’s secretaries, Fannie Bolton, declared in 1901:EGWW 100.2

    The editors in no wise change Sister White’s expression if it is grammatically correct, and is an evident expression of the evident thought. Sister White as human instrumentality has a pronounced style of her own, which is preserved all through her books and articles, that stamps the matter with her individuality. Many times her manuscript does not need any editing, often but slight editing, and again a great deal of literary work; but article or chapter, whatever has been done upon it, is passed back into her hands by the editor.—Messenger to the Remnant, p. 60.EGWW 100.3

    It would have been an unprofitable use of Ellen White’s time were she to attempt to do all the painstaking work of a copy editor. Ellen White had three years in school. The Lord did not miraculously instruct her in all the rules of writing, teaching her spelling and telling her where to put in all the commas, and so forth. She valued highly the help of skilled literary assistants, who were instructed closely as to what their work was. They would copy the material, and if they found a misspelled word it would be corrected. If they found an imperfection in grammar they would correct it. Ellen White one time said that there is no salvation in misspelled words and poor grammar.EGWW 100.4

    If there was repetition, the statements would be brought to one place. If there was redundancy of words, a synonym might be used. But the copied material would come back to Ellen White triple spaced, and she would read it over carefully and edit it. She often added a bit here, strengthened a statement there, put in quotation marks the copyist left out, corrected a word the copyist had misspelled, and so on. Then it would go back to the copyist to be recopied. It would come back to Mrs. White, and she would look it over carefully and sign it. She might even edit it further, and it would be copied again. She was ever endeavoring to find the best and clearest way of setting forth the truths that had been opened to her mind, that they might reach the people in a way that would accomplish their work effectively.EGWW 100.5

    Ellen White was instructed as to whom she could trust as literary assistants and whom she could not trust. Two individuals who worked for her were dismissed, one of them three times, when Ellen White in vision was warned that they were tempted to change the writings as they passed through their hands. God was controlling the work—not a mechanical control, but His hand was over it. I have heard my father say that Mrs. White’s secretaries would as soon put their right hand in the fire and have it burned off as they would think of changing the messages that passed through their hands as they went from Ellen White to the people. Ellen White had no ghost writers. She was fully responsible for what went out under her name.EGWW 101.1

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