Ellen G. White -- the Myth and the Truth

by Å. Kaspersen


16 -Retouching

The White Estate, which stands as the zealous keeper of Ellen White's writings, manuscripts and letters, has from time to time faked photographs in order to preserve the myths about the adventist prophetess. As an example we will mention a photograph where Ellen White's granddaughter Ella Robinson is sitting besides her grandmother. On the photograph Ella Robinson wears a long necklace. This necklace was retouched away when Arthur White put the photograph into his book The Elmshaven Years, p. 243. The faking was probably done to create the impression that adventists at that time - and especially Ellen White's relatives - were faithful to the Testimonies, which condemn in no uncertain terms the use of jewelry. It was however obvious that SDA people in general, and her own relatives, did not take these statements on jewelry too serious, and it was evident that Ellen White did not have any objections to pose on a photograph together with her granddaughter wearing a long necklace. Otherwise, it was customary that artists at the Review and Herald routinely removed jewelry from people before photograps were published and printed. But now this practice has been abandoned, they say. There is a photograph of Ellen White from 1878, where she stands beside her twin sister Elizabeth. On this photo Ellen White wears a long gold chain and a brooch. This was fifteen years after she had condemned other people wearing similar jewelry.

The artists at the Review and Herald did also doctor Ellen White's nose. The stone which hit her in the nasal region when she was ten years old, damaged her face, giving her a "pug-nose". W.A. Colcord, who was secretary of the General Conference in the 1920's wrote a letter to Edward S. Ballenger,

"I am glad to see you getting after W.C. White. . . .No doubt he was the one who had his mother's picture doctored up to represent her having a beautiful, long, straight nose. . . . (it is) a misrepresentation which covers up the deformity caused by an all but fatal blow in childhood which later brought on her epilepsy and. . . fits mistaken for visions. . . . For many years he has figured in these misrepresentations and defenses of his mother." (Letter, W.A. Colcord to E.S. Ballenger, Feb. 29, 1928. Quoted in Sydney Cleveland's book, White-Washed.)

In other words: Not just the written words from Ellen White has been twisted and retouched by the myth-keepers. Also photographic material has been doctored to create wrong impressions about their revered prophetess among the common SDA people.

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