“The coming of Christ is nearer than when we first believed. The great controversy is nearing its end. The judgments of God are in the land. They speak in solemn warning, saying,”Be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." Matt. 24:44"
Ellen White, 19041

A Gospel of Health and Salvation is a work of digital history, defined as the self-reflective application of computational and web technologies to the study of the past. In it, I examine the role of Ellen White in the development of Seventh-day Adventism using computational text analysis of the periodicals produced by the denomination between 1849 and 1920. This introduction establishes the two foci of the dissertation:

The foci of the dissertation are connected by the question of time: how beliefs about the end of time shaped the vision of gender articulated within Seventh-day Adventism; and how exploring the denomination’s embrace of alternative structures of time illuminates the need for critical engagement with the application of modern computational methods to historical research.

Together, the dissertation makes two primary interventions in the existing scholarship. First, in conversation with scholars Laura Vance, Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, and Catherine Brekus, I argue that beliefs about time were central in shaping the vision of gender articulated by Ellen White and embraced within Seventh-day Adventism. This framework provides a means of unraveling the puzzle of Ellen White’s seemingly inconsistent writings on women and gender and reinforces the importance of the content of beliefs in examining the upheavals of revival periods. Using a topic model of the denomination’s periodical literature, I identify a cyclical structure to the denomination’s end-times expectation, and use that structure to bring together two major theoretical frameworks for discussing the development of religious movements: Mary Douglas’ “religious anti-ritualism” and Stark and Bainbridge’s “church-sect-cult.”

Second, I argue for the scholarliness of the computational work that grounds my historical analysis, claiming that critical engagement with data and algorithms is vital for the successful application of computational methods to historical analysis. Rather than neutral, the work of preparing the text for modeling, selecting the modeling algorithms, visualizing the resulting model, and interpreting the results represents the first phase of interpretation and shapes the possibilities of the overall project. Consequently, the evaluation of the computational methods is integral to understanding and assessing the interpretive arguments. The interdependence of the code and interpretation necessitates the publication of code and data along with narrative, accomplished here through the creation of a digital, web-based interface for the dissertation.

Seventh-day Adventism’s reliance on print and their embrace of digital technology to continue their evangelistic work in the twenty-first century has created the conditions of possibility for this bi-directional study of religious culture and historical methods. Starting in 1849 with the Present Truth, Seventh-day Adventist leaders have used print as one of their primary evangelistic tools to share their message of sabbath-keeping with a dispersed community. As a result, the periodical literature documents the development of the denomination’s beliefs and practices. Building on that commitment, their investment in the digitization and online distribution of their historical materials makes it possible to use computational text analysis to see patterns in the cultural development of the denomination over time. With a source base suited to both the historical question and the research methodology, the digital records of Seventh-day Adventism present the opportunity to examine the role of beliefs about time in the development of the denomination’s religious culture and the use of computational text analysis for the study of the past.

The Puzzle of Ellen White

Ellen White is a curious figure in the history of American religion. One of a handful of women to lead a religious movement, she, unlike her contemporary Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, and her predecessor Mother Ann Lee, founder of the Shakers, has received little attention in standard histories of American religion. This is in part because her role in Seventh-day Adventism does not fit neatly into the typical narratives told about women in American religion. There is not a clear line from her prophetic leadership within Seventh-day Adventism to a commitment to women’s rights, and her writings have even been used in the twentieth century to justify the denomination’s patriarchal structure. Her life and work fall outside of the timeframe of events usually studied as part of the Second Great Awakening, as her visions began after the failure of William Miller’s 1843/1844 predictions of the second coming. Additionally, the denomination she brought into being has remained a minor figure in the landscape of American religion, although it has grown to over 20,700,000 members worldwide.2 As a result, the development of her role within Seventh-day Adventism and the legacy of her writings have been largely ignored, except by denominational historians for whom she is both a historical figure and a religious authority.3

And yet despite the scholarly neglect, White and Seventh-day Adventism reveal important trends in American religious history. Seventh-day Adventism sits between established Protestant denominations and radical religious movements, in tension with their religious neighbors on both sides because of their beliefs about the Sabbath and health as well as because of their constrained understanding of prophecy and healing. Ellen White as prophet and religious leader sits similarly, occupying a rare position of religious authority while also advocating for religious restraint and respectability. In this position, the study of White and Seventh-day Adventism enables us to see the multiple and often conflicting pressures and beliefs that shaped religious belief and practice during the nineteenth-century, reaching beyond periods of upheaval such as the Second Great Awakening.

Ellen White: Religious Founder and Prophet

Ellen and her twin sister, Elizabeth, were born in November of 1827 to Robert and Eunice Harmon in Gorham, Maine. Members of the local Methodist church, the Harmon family was religiously active before William Miller arrived preaching his message of the second advent. White was a religiously sensitive child, “converted” at age eleven and baptized (by immersion on her request) into the Methodist Church at the age of twelve.4 Still, she felt that her salvation was incomplete. Upon hearing William Miller speak in 1840, she was full of concern that she was not ready for the second coming, not ready to “meet Jesus.”5 Her religious breakthrough came two years later in the form of being called to “pray in the public prayer-meeting,” a calling that she embraced with the support of her mother and Brother Stockman, the local Adventist preacher.6 At the moment of responding to that calling and praying aloud, White felt the “burden and agony of soul that I had so long felt left me, and the blessing of God came upon me like the gentle dew…”7 The experience solidified her commitment to the Adventist cause at the expense of her status within the Methodist church: in 1843, when Ellen was fifteen years old, she and her family were dismissed from the Methodist church on account of their Millerite beliefs.

White and her family spent 1843 and 1844 awaiting the second coming and were among those who experienced the Great Disappointment when the second coming did not occur on October 22, 1844. As the community attempted to understand what appeared to be the failure of prophecy, White experienced the first of many visions that would come to define her prophetic role for the nascent Seventh-day Adventist denomination. During prayer at a home gathering with five other Adventist women in December 1844, White had a vision of the temporal journey of the Adventist people. She saw

a straight and narrow path, cast up high above the world. On this path the Advent people were traveling to the city … They had a bright light set up behind them at the first end of the path, which an angel told me was the Midnight Cry [Miller’s teaching regarding the Second Advent]… if they kept their eyes on Jesus, who was just before them, leading them to the city, they were safe.8

She and others interpreted this vision as a call to hold on to their belief in the Second Coming, as presented by Miller. With their embrace of Miller’s teaching, the Advent community had begun the journey to heaven, of salvation, and that only by remaining faithful would they be saved.

White was again called to share this and subsequent visions with the Adventist community. She began traveling to the surrounding Adventist meetings, and eventually sent a written account of her vision to one of the remaining Adventist periodicals, the Day-Star.9 Her message was often met with skepticism and White found herself having to defend her calling against accusations of mesmerism and spiritualism.10 Further attesting to their legitimacy, her visions began to be marked by supernatural exhibitions of strength. While meeting with the Adventist community in Randolph, Massachusetts, White went into vision and, as a test, a large “quarto family Bible” was placed upon her and immediately she “arose to her feet, and walked into the middle of the room, with the Bible open in one hand, and lifted up as high as she could reach.” She began to turn to various passages, reciting without seeing their content, and continued this way until sunset.11 Slowly, a growing number of the remaining Adventist community began to embrace White and her visions as of divine origin.

One of her early converts and fellow traveler was Millerite lecturer, James White. The two were married in 1847, in part for the sake of propriety, and continued to travel together to fulfill Ellen’s calling to share her visions. In 1849, they began a publication, The Present Truth, to better reach the scattered Adventist community. As I discuss in Chapters 1 and 2, this was the beginning of an expansive publication network that was foundational to the formation of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. James and Ellen continued to travel, publishing from Middletown, Connecticut; Paris, Maine; Oswego, New York; Saratoga Springs, New York; and Rochester, New York before settling in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1855-6.12 During this time of travel and preaching, Ellen gave birth to three of the couple’s four sons, and offered guidance to the growing community through her visions and testimonies.

In 1863, White embarked on a second phase of her prophetic role for the growing denomination as an advocate for health reform. Her approach to health incorporated a number of different threads of nineteenth-century society. Church members, including fellow leader Joseph Bates, had long advocated for abstaining from stimulants, such as tobacco, tea, and coffee, as well as for the adoption of the vegetarian diet and whole wheat flour of Grahamism.13 After having had success with water cure for treating her sons from diphtheria and a positive experience at James Caleb Jackson’s water cure retreat in Danville, N.Y., “Our Home on the Hillside,” White received visions directing the establishment of a Seventh-day Adventist water cure institution, which was founded in 1866.14 White wrote pieces on various aspects of health, including dress, sexuality, and diet, during the 1860s and 70s. Through her embrace of health reform, she worked to guide the Seventh-day Adventist community to follow the fullness of God’s law and to prepare themselves for salvation by attending to their physical health in this life.

After the death of James White in 1881, Ellen White entered a third phase of her role within the denomination, that of missionary, author, and “matriarch.”15 She continued to travel on behalf of the cause, spending 1885-1887 in Europe and 1891-1900 in Australia, establishing the Seventh-day Adventist community there.16 She was increasingly an advocate for educational reform, writing about the benefits of practical education that combined religious instruction, physical labor, and skills training, as well as for the expansion of the health reform work of the denomination. She also gathered a literary staff around her to aid in the work of recording and distributing her visions in print. Throughout this period of activity, White grew into her role as the matriarch of the denomination, weighing in on theological controversies, dictating the educational model for the growing network of Seventh-day Adventist schools, and recommending locations for the establishment of new sanitariums.

The final years of her life were spent overseeing a final reorganization and consolidation of the denomination as well as attending to her literary legacy. Upon her return from Australia, she pushed for the reorganization of the denomination and its institutions, including moving the denominational headquarters out of Battle Creek, Michigan to the Washington, D.C., region. She challenged John Harvey Kellogg’s functional monopoly over the denomination’s medical missions, encouraged the development of sanitariums outside of Battle Creek, and personally oversaw the site selection for the Loma Linda sanitarium, as well as other Southern California institutions.17 From her final home in St. Helena, California, White focused on the management and publication of her writings. She established an estate to ensure that her works continued to be published and appointed trustees that included both family and church leaders to administer it after her death.18 When she died in 1915, she was held by most church members as their divinely inspired leader and her writings second only to the Bible in providing access to the divine.

Through all the changes that structured her life, White maintained her prophetic role, publishing “Testimonies” for the church that covered topics from theology and health to commentary on the behavior of individual ministers (and their wives) and serving as a conduit for divine guidance when the way forward for the denomination was unclear. She also served, through her example and her writings, as an advocate for the importance of women’s labor as part of the missionary activity of the church. Whether in the form of offering testimony to the truth of the “third angels’ message,” training children in self-control through diet, working in the church’s medical institutions, supporting the organization of the denomination, or participating in global missions, all aspects of religious work were presented as open to women, even if their work was constrained. While she assumed her most radical role — that of prophet — in the opening years of the movement, she continued to widen the sphere of influence for both herself and the women of the denomination over the course of her long life.

Interpreting Ellen White’s Role in Shaping the Culture of Seventh-day Adventism

Ellen White rose to prominence during the period of the Second Great Awakening, a period of particularly intense renegotiation of the religious norms in the United States. As a result, her role in Seventh-day Adventism is often explained with reference to the patterns and shifts that defined that period. As I discuss in the first chapter, the early nineteenth-century was a period in American history marked by religious innovation. The separation of religion from state control, a process known as disestablishment, created an environment particularly ripe for a “democratization” of religious expression.19 People were increasingly able to worship according to their preferences and outside of the established denominations. The loosening of social controls on religious expression resulted in increasing diversity, as new churches, denominations, and movements formed in response to differences in religious thought and practice. Out of this period of religious innovation came some of the most distinctive American religious and social movements, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Oneida Utopian Community, and the Seventh-day Adventists.20

The decentralization of control, however, is not sufficient to explain the rapid proliferation of new religious movements, each claiming to present the truth that others were failing to uphold. Looking more closely at religious revival and reform movements, it becomes clear that these religious actors were guided by particular visions of sacred history, by particular understandings of the arc of history and the role of American Protestant Christians in that narrative. While each group understood itself as standing at the crux of the story of salvation, all shared a framework that “began in Eden, developed in the world, and would culminate in a world without end.” The narrative was radically expansive, encompassing “humankind — saints and sinners, men and women, common and chosen …” along with “the suprahuman character of God Himself, His son the Christ, and the sworn enemy — the Antichrist.”21 In the march toward the last judgment, each group identified itself as the chosen one whose members successfully understood and obeyed the requirements for salvation, whether those requirements were correct behavior or the proper religious experience to ensure a connection with and the favor of the Divine. For many, that position also required bringing about change in the world, either by converting souls through revivals or by advocating for virtuous living. These various groups saw themselves as having a divine mission to prepare the world for the coming end and to do their part to ensure that events unfolded according to the Divine plan.

Protestant women as well as men embraced these various efforts to redeem the world ahead of the imminent return of Christ. As has been noted by historian Ann Braude and others, religion in the American context has always been a site of significant female activity.22 Although leadership positions have been restricted to male adherents across most American religious traditions, women have consistently contributed both time and money to religious initiatives, worked to train children within religious traditions, and constituted the majority of those who attend religious services.23 Building on the existing predominance of religious women, the Protestant reform movements of the early nineteenth-century called upon women to help bring about revival and reform. As Carroll Smith-Rosenberg has noted, although these movements were generally led by “male clerics and reformers … women were their most zealous adherents.”24 In addition to joining radical religious movements, women worked for reform in a variety of ways, including fundraising for various causes, creating female benevolent societies, and taking to the pulpit, preaching to convince others to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Through all these efforts, women created “a public and powerful role for themselves as a female conscience and moral voice crying in a wilderness of male corruption” during the same period that domesticity and “the Cult of True Womanhood” grew in cultural prominence.25

Radical religious movements attracted the involvement of women and presented opportunities for them to claim leadership roles that had previously been denied. Sociologists and historians have linked periods of revival and radical religion, or periods of “religious anti-ritualism,” to social and economic change and distress, when social “boundaries are no longer clearly defined.”26 Revivals, as “liminal” periods, provided space for the reconfiguration of social norms and structures, enabling women and others traditionally excluded from leadership roles to experiment with different constructions and in so doing, shift the shape of the social spheres.27 For the revivals of the Second Great Awakening, the social reorganization launched with the American Revolution and the instability of society brought about with increased mobility and the loosening of government control on the expression of religion created the environment in which groups traditionally excluded — those without formal religious training, women, and ethnic minorities — could experiment with alternative forms of religious belief and practice.

The main studies that have focused on gender in Seventh-day Adventism or Ellen White and the formation of the denomination have relied on the framework of opportunities for innovation caused by social or economic disruption and have framed the church’s development in terms of the movement from sect to denomination. In her study of gender in Seventh-day Adventism, Laura Vance turns to “sectarian development” as the theoretical framework for interpreting the changing attitudes regarding gender. She traces the progression of the denomination from “sect” — where members “despised secular involvement and found a collective identity in repudiating the world — to”denomination," focusing on the embrace of institution building and, after the second world war, efforts to de-emphasize their differences with other Protestant denominations.28 Similarly, in his account of the development of the denomination, Jonathan Butler uses anthropologist Kenneth Burridge’s formulation of “‘old rules’ to ‘no rules’ to ‘new rules’” to explain the changes in Seventh-day Adventist culture and the progression from a Millerite sect to a flourishing denomination.29 These frameworks help illuminate the changes in Seventh-day Adventism from the Millerite days of 1844 to the present. “Sectarian development” provides a means to interpret the overall development of the movement, while Burridge’s formulation, similar to Douglas’ “anti-ritualism,” provides a window on particular moments of change.

While focusing on the movement from disruption to reification provides a useful framework for interpreting individual periods of revival or reform, the changing attitudes toward gender within Seventh-day Adventism, and as articulated by Ellen White, calls for bringing together these two frameworks to explore changes across multiple periods of disruption. Despite the move toward institutionalization and the concurrent restriction of roles for women, Ellen White maintained her prophetic leadership within the denomination and also articulated a vision of salvation that required the labor of women, both at home and in the world. Using computational text analysis, I argue that the cycles of end-times expectation during the first seventy years of the denomination’s history reinforced the denomination’s alternative sense of time as well as their alternative gender norms, as articulated by White and others. These cycles of increasing and decreasing expectation created recurring periods of “anti-ritualism” over the formative years of the denomination, which in turn influenced the culture that was institutionalized. Rather than a puzzle, these cycles enabled Ellen White to articulate a vision of gender and salvation that called both men and women to the work of salvation, whether that work be within the family or in bringing the Seventh-day Adventist message to the world.

From Religious History to Digital History

Reaching beyond the religious culture at the beginning of Seventh-day Adventism to studying the unfolding of White’s legacy over the course of her life presents the opportunity to investigate the use of computational text analysis in historical research. Due to the unique role of print in the formation of the denomination, the expansive published record of the denomination, which includes weekly and monthly periodicals, tracts, books, hymnals, and cookbooks, raises a challenge of scale. Tracking patterns across the published record over the 70 years of White’s leadership poses a significant “problem of abundance.”30 Previous studies have addressed this challenge through sampling or by limiting focus to the main denominational periodical, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald.31 Computational text analysis opens new avenues, enabling the identification of patterns in word usage at scale and tracking them over time.

Additionally, the question of time in the formation of the culture of Seventh-day Adventism raises important questions about the assumptions underlying modern text analysis algorithms and the process of leveraging those algorithms in historical research. How might researchers use tools that assume time is regular and linear to explore cultures that operate based on different concepts of time, different temporal imaginaries? How might those algorithms be adjusted for different models of time?

The study of time in Seventh-day Adventism presents a unique opportunity to use computational methods to further explore religious culture and to use religious culture to further explore the possibilities and limitations of computational research in the humanities. This bi-directional approach is at the heart of work in the digital humanities and enables interventions in both our understanding of the past and in our understanding of the meaning-making methods of the present.

A Culture Of and Through Print

Of the many changes that transformed American life in the nineteenth-century, the expansion of the means and networks of communication looms large. As the expanding nation was increasingly connected through railroads and telegraph, the decrease in transportation time and the increasing ease of producing and distributing information aided the growth of religious and political communities despite growing spatial distances. Using print to develop an “imagined community” that spanned both time and space, politicians, reformers, and religious leaders leveraged newspapers and other regular publications to share ideas, unite followers, and support dispersed communities. For religious publishers, the flourishing of religious print enabled preachers and others to “impart a sense of coherence and direction to widely scattered congregations” and in so doing provided the mechanism for the formation of new national religious movements.32 For the readers of religious periodicals of all stripes, the ritual of reading, sharing, and writing helped to create a “sense of interconnection,” of belonging and shared understanding, as fellow travelers along the road.33

The history of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination provides a particularly potent example of the use of print to create and sustain a religious movement. For the early adherents, circulation of periodical literature was the primary mechanism by which the denomination developed its self-understanding and formed community. While these processes were aided by camp meetings and weekly services, the centrality of print in the missionary work of the denomination and importance of correspondence to the community through the periodicals point to the integral role of print as the “tie that binds” the community together.34

From the beginning of the religious movement, the leaders of Seventh-day Adventism embraced publishing as the foundation of the religious activities of the denomination, as James and Ellen White turned to print to unite the “scattered flock.” In this, Seventh-day Adventists were similar to their religious and reform-minded peers, using the growing infrastructure of transportation and communication to spread their ideas and create a community through print. What is notable about Seventh-day Adventist publishing is how central it was, and remains, to their religious practice. Unlike other Protestant traditions, such as the Baptists, which center on the local congregation, the Seventh-day Adventists created a dispersed but centrally guided religious movement. Using regular publications to bridge gaps of space and time, Seventh-day Adventism developed their religious culture around print as a primary medium of communication.

Through that reliance on the printed materials for the denomination, the distribution of SDA literature took on additional significance as a way for lay community members to contribute to the mission of the denomination. From the earliest days of James’ publishing of the Present Truth and asking for help with its distribution, sharing the Adventist understanding of the “third angel’s message” has been central to the mission of the religious movement. Distributing Adventist literature, or serving as a “colporteur,” was a key way for lay members of the denomination to become involved in the work of the church. Church members were (and still are) encouraged to hand out literature to friends, neighbors, and acquaintances as a way of engaging in evangelism.

Computational Analysis of Religious History

The question of Ellen White’s role in the development of Seventh-day Adventism is particularly suited to computational methods due to the denomination’s embrace of digital technologies. Their long-standing connection between faith, mission, and publishing has extended into the digital age, as the SDA has, with an expansiveness undertaken by few other denominations, devoted resources to creating and releasing digital copies and editions of their history. Recently these efforts have been consolidated in the Adventist Digital Library, a central website with content contributed from a range of Seventh-day Adventist schools and archives, along with the General Conference of the denomination and the Ellen White Estate. This site, together with the denomination’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research and Ellen White’s Writings Online, provides access to the published and archival history of the denomination. With a mission of helping to “spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world through direct and unlimited access to Adventist historical materials, as well as current resources available within copyright boundaries,” the digital library and the digitization efforts of members of the denomination translate the denomination’s emphasis on print for the twenty-first century.35

As a result of these efforts, large swaths of the denominations published record are available in digital formats. This creates both challenges and opportunities. With the weekly publication of the central denominational periodical, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, and separate titles for the different associations and regional conferences of the denomination, the scope of content produced by the denomination is too large for a single researcher to develop a comprehensive understanding of the different themes over time. This abundance, however, opens the need and opportunity for turning to computational methods, as the problem of abundance requires quickly sorting large quantities of textual data, the very problem that algorithms such as topic modeling were created to solve.36 With the large scope and scale of digital content from the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, computational methods become necessary for exploring questions of the changing discourse of the denomination over time.

The abundance of the digital record for Seventh-day Adventism also creates the opportunity to examine some of the unstated assumptions within digital humanities. One of these is that the biggest limiting factor for computational analysis is the availability of digital content. When digitized content is highly available, it can be productively subjected to different computational algorithms. I argue in Chapter 2 that this is not necessarily the case. Rather the quality of the textual data has a significant, and under-examined, effect on the results of different forms of computational analysis and that the textual data generated from historical documents is frequently unreliable. While computational strategies, such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR), are necessary to create textual data at scale from historical documents, significant work is needed to evaluate and prepare that data prior to analysis, work that is rarely rewarded as the scholarly output it is.

Studying the history of the SDA also brings to focus the challenge of using computational methods trained on modern data and structured according to modern assumptions on historical texts. The varying quality of the textual data creates challenges in applying some of the more advanced, and informative, natural language processing algorithms to historical content. For example, processes such as part of speech tagging require that the sentence structure remain intact, which often is not the case with the OCR of historical newspapers due to older patterns in layout and typography. Additionally, named entity recognition, which would be a powerful tool for parsing people and places, works best when the algorithm has been trained on similar content. Attempting to apply these strategies to the periodical literature of the denomination indicates that more work is needed in evaluating and training existing algorithms to work with historical content.

Additionally, the question of time in the construction of gender draws attention to the assumptions underlying computational algorithms, assumptions that humanities research is well positioned to interrogate. Time in our modern imaginary is understood to be constant, regular, progressive, and linear, but time has not been perceived the same way across history and cultures. Rather, the organization of time reflects and shapes social and cultural systems; time is “a plastic changeable notion, a social creation.”37 When modeled within standard computational algorithms, time is generally assumed to be progressive, regular, and linear, or assumed to be a non-factor in the analysis.38 This can have drastic effects on the patterns that the algorithm suggests, and obscure historical and cultural variations in the organization of time, as well as the effects of those alternative constructions on the topic of study. The question of Seventh-day Adventism’s beliefs about and alternative organizations of time creates space to explore if and how time can be examined using existing computational algorithms and opens space for exploring the construction of alternative algorithms that model time differently.

As with many Christian traditions, the printed word held a central place in the religious life and thought of early Seventh-day Adventism. While the printed record is generally of value to historians as a source for understanding the past, in the case of Seventh-day Adventism, it is a particularly potent source, a distributed and periodic “scripture” deployed with good effect to share their distinctive message with the world and as a means of creating and sustaining their community. It is because of that centrality of text to the denomination, and their ongoing commitment to making their textual history accessible across multiple media, that the periodicals of the denomination can serve as the basis for a computational analysis of the development of Seventh-day Adventist beliefs and culture.

  1. Ellen Gould Harmon White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8 (No. 36) (Kansas City, MO; Oakland, CA; Portland, OR: Pacific Press Publishing Company, 1904),\&printsec=frontcover\&dq=inauthor:\%22Ellen+Gould+Harmon+White\%22+testamonies\&hl=en\&sa=X\&ved=0ahUKEwji0Kj_so3aAhWnhlQKHQnLCG0Q6AEILzAB\#v=onepage\&q=inauthor\%3A\%22Ellen\%20Gould\%20Harmon\%20White\%22\%20testamonies\&f=false, p. 252

  2. Office of Archives  Statistics  Research, “Seventh-Day Adventist World Church Statistics,” 2018,

  3. That duality has caused tensions for some historians, particularly when their historical interpretation is seen as threatening to church orthodoxy. For example, see Jonathan Butler and Ronald Numbers, “The Historian as Heretic,” in Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen White, Third Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2008).

  4. Ellen Gould Harmon White, A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White (Saratoga Springs, NY: James White, 1851),, p. 3; Ellen Gould Harmon White, My Christian Experience, Views, and Labors. (Battle Creek, MI: James White, 1860),, p. 13

  5. White, A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White, p. 3.

  6. ibid., , p. 3-4.

  7. ibid., , p. 4. Stories of an irresistible call to public witness is common among female religious preachers during the nineteenth century, as documented by Elizabeth Grammer in Elizabeth Elkin Grammer, Some Wild Visions: Autobiographies by Female Itinerant Evangelists in 19th-Century America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003). The framing placed the onus of women’s religious activity on divine command, rather than individual volition, softening the social disruption implied in their embrace of that calling.

  8. White, My Christian Experience, Views, and Labors, p. 31.

  9. Ellen G. Harmon, “Letter from Sister Harmon,” The Day-Star 9, nos. 7, 8 (1846): 31–32,,08.pdf.

  10. White, My Christian Experience, Views, and Labors, pp. 57; 72.

  11. ibid., , pp. 77-79. This story has become deeply embedded within the Adventist story, with examples of the bible included at the Ellen White Estate offices for view to religious “pilgrims.”

  12. Ibid., 115, 116, 122, 143, 152, 160, 203.

  13. Ronald L. Numbers and Rennie B. Schoepflin, “Science and Medicine,” in Ellen Harmon White: American Prophet, ed. Terrie Dopp Aamodt, Gary Land, and Ronald L. Numbers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), p. 198-9; Stephen Nissenbaum, Sex, Diet, and Debility in Jacksonian America: Sylvester Graham and Health Reform (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980), pp. 20-21.

  14. Numbers and Schoepflin, “Science and Medicine.”, p. 204; Ronald L. Numbers, Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2008), pp. 124, 126-132.

  15. Jonathan Butler, “Ellen White: A Portrait,” in Ellen Harmon White: American Prophet, ed. Terrie Dopp Aamodt, Gary Land, and Ronald L. Numbers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), p. 17.

  16. ibid., , pp. 17; 21.

  17. ibid., , pp. 22-23.

  18. Paul McGraw and Gilbert Valentine, “Legacy,” in Ellen Harmon White: American Prophet, ed. Terrie Dopp Aamodt, Gary Land, and Ronald L. Numbers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), p. 306-7.

  19. The seminal work on the changing character of American religion in the years after the American Revolution remains Nathan O Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989).

  20. For a study of the parallels between Mormonism and Oneida, see Lawrence Foster, Women, Family, and Utopia: Communal Experiments of the Shakers, the Oneida Community, and the Mormons (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1991). For a comparison of Seventh-day Adventism and the Shakers, see Lawrence Foster, “Has Prophesy Failed? Contrasting Perspectives of the Millerites and Shakers,” in The Disappointed : Millerism and Millenarianism in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Ronald L. Numbers and Jonathan M. Butler (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987).

  21. Robert H. Abzug, Cosmos Crumbling: American Reform and the Religious Imagination, 1st ed. (New York; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 30. Abzug focuses primarily on the religious imagination of New England Puritans, but this general framework can be expanded to nearly all Protestant or Protestant based religious movements of the period.

  22. Ann Braude, “Women’s History Is Religious History,” in Retelling U.s. Religious History, ed. Thomas A. Tweed (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).

  23. ibid., , p. 89.

  24. Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, “The Cross and the Pedestal: Women, Anti-Ritualism, and the Emergence of the American Bourgeoisie,” in Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 129.

  25. ibid., , p. 130. Phrase from Barbara Welter’s classic article of the same title. Barbara Welter, “The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860,” American Quarterly 18, no. 2 (1966): 151–74,

  26. Smith-Rosenberg, “The Cross and the Pedestal.”, p. 140. Smith-Rosenberg applies this framework from anthropologist Mary Douglas to the religious revivals of the early nineteenth-century. Additional scholars who have relied on a similar parsing of religious revival include William McLoughlin and Paul Johnson. William G. McLoughlin, Revivals, Awakening and Reform: An Essay on Religious and Social Change in America, 1607-1977 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013); Paul E. Johnson, A Shopkeeper’s Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837, 25th Anniversary (New York: Hill; Wang, 2004).

  27. Victor Turner, “Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites de Passage,” in The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1967), 93–111.

  28. Laura Lee Vance, Seventh-Day Adventism in Crisis: Gender and Sectarian Change in an Emerging Religion (University of Illinois Press, 1999), pp. 222-3.

  29. Jonathan Butler, “From Millerism to Seventh-Day Adventism: ‘Boundlessness to Consolidation’,” Church History 55, no. 1 (1986): 50–64,, p. 50.

  30. To borrow a phrase from Roy Rosenzweig. Roy Rosenzweig, “Scarcity or Abundance? Preserving the Past in a Digital Era,” The American Historical Review 108, no. 3 (2003): 735–62,

  31. Vance, for example, primarily relies on the Review and Herald, which according to one reviewer limits the nuance of her analysis of denominational attitudes toward gender. Rennie B. Schoepflin, “Review: “Seventh-Day Adventism in Crisis: Gender and Sectarian Change in an Emerging Religion by Laura L. Vance,” Church History 72, no. 4 (2003): 908–9,

  32. Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity, p. 146; Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Revised Edition (London; New York: Verso, 2006), p. 6.

  33. Candy Gunther Brown, Word in the World : Evangelical Writing, Publishing, and Reading in America, 1789-1880 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004),, p. 271.

  34. John Fawcett, “Blest Be the Tie That Binds,” 1782, The hymn was published in Adventist hymnals starting with The Advent Harp in 1849.

  35. Eric Koester and Henry Gomes, eds., “About,” Adventist Digital Library, 2017,

  36. David M. Blei, “Probabilistic Topic Models,” Communications of the ACM 55, no. 4 (2012): 77–84,

  37. Michael O’Malley, Keeping Watch: A History of American Time (New York: Penguin Books, 1990), p. 312. David Harvey pursues a similar argument in his work on historical geography, arguing for economic disruption as the root of shifts in the organization of space and time. David Harvey, “Between Space and Time: Reflections on the Geographical Imagination,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 80, no. 3 (1990): 418–34, While certainly tied to economic realities, I argue here for the importance of beliefs in the construction of time, and the role of time in the possibilities for gender within a culture.

  38. For a detailed discussion of time in topic modeling algorithms, see Benjamin M. Schmidt, “Words Alone: Dismantling Topic Models in the Humanities,” Journal of Digital Humanities, 2013, internal-pdf://7981/words-alone-by-benjamin-m-schmidt.html.