Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religion, Adventist Studies PhD

First Advisor

Jerry Moon

Second Advisor

Denis Fortin

Third Advisor

Merlin Burt


James White (1821-1881) and Ellen G. White (1827-1915), co-founders (with Joseph Bates) of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, were united in marriage on August 30, 1846, and lived together for thirty-five years until James died. As leaders (though Ellen White never assumed any administrative post) of the emerging denomination and putting all effort for the growth and mission of the Adventist cause, the Whites lived an intense life of writing, publishing, preaching, and traveling. Though their marriage was a blessing for both of them, the intensity of their lives, health issues, and their humanity, caused marital difficulties in some periods of their marriage.

The purpose of this dissertation is to describe and analyze the personal relationship between James and Ellen White, from their first interactions with each other in 1845 until the death of James White in 1881, to discover whether the trajectory of the marriage of James and Ellen White shows the functionality of the relationship along the marital career to the end. This was a documentary study based primarily on published and unpublished sources produced by James White and Ellen G. White. The most heavily used primary source was the correspondence, autobiographical works, articles, and manuscripts written by the couple White, but also supplemented with secondary sources that included biographies, periodicals, correspondence, and other archival materials.

This research presents four significant contributions to the topic proposed: the dominant meaning of the marriage of James and Ellen White; the greatest barriers or threats to their marriage; the main promoting factors that gave strength to their marriage; and the overall trajectory of their marriage to its end. James and Ellen never implied in any way that their marriage had been a mistake. Though they faced marital problems, as almost all couples do, they never considered the possibility of divorce, legal separation, or otherwise leaving each other permanently. On the contrary, for most of their 35 years together, they not only worked in close partnership, but in physical proximity, content with each other, and their last days were days of affinity, support, and love.

Subject Area

White, Ellen G., 1827-1915; White, James, 1821-1881; Marriage