| Ellen G. White Estate

Did a photographer catch Ellen White wearing a gold chain?

At the Andrews branch we have this photograph in a display album that we show people who visit us. I looked at that copy and could see clearly that it is not a gold chain Mrs. White is wearing, but a cord with a metal clip at each end. The upper part attaches to her clothing, perhaps to a button, and the lower end I assume attaches to a pocket watch that is out of sight in the shadow of the picture, presumably in a pocket.

However, the picture we display is a reproduction. So I decided to search further to see whether we have an original, and I did find an original print with the photographer’s name and address still on it. The picture is very clear—it is a cord, not a gold chain.

I cannot account for why it looks like it could be a chain in the picture on the Web site. In the original picture, though, one can barely see the loop of cord that goes back toward her elbow to where it ends, presumably in a watch pocket. But on the Web site the loop is much lighter, as though it is reflective metal. This makes me think that someone has altered the picture to make it look like she is wearing a chain.

In the photo, Mrs. White is wearing a small pin at the closure of her collar. I think this was not unusual for her, and it seems not to have been the kind of ornamentation that she objected to. Regarding the wearing of a pin, she wrote the following in a letter to her son and daughter-in-law:

Sister Kerr took me into her parlor bedroom, and opened a box of ruches [strips of lace, net, ribbon, or the like used in place of a collar or cuff] for the neck, and desired me to accept the entire box. Her husband is a merchant in Honolulu, and though not a believer, he is a very liberal man. She also presented me with three yards and a half of silk, costing three dollars a yard with which I was to make a sack [a short coat or jacket fitting somewhat loosely]. I saw that she was very desirous that I should have this, and I could not refuse without greatly disappointing her. It was beautiful silk left from a dress which she had. She also gave me a silk scarf, and a ten dollar pin, composed of white stones, very plain and serviceable. I thought I could not accept this, but she looked so sorry, that I finally did take it, and have worn it ever since, for it is handy and becoming, while it is not showy at all.—Letter 32a, 1891, pp. 2, 3. (To J. E. and Emma White, Decem¬ber 7, 1891.) [Manuscript Releases, 8:449].

As I read the statement, I find three criteria for such things. An item like this should serve a needed function (“serviceable,” “handy”), it should be artis¬tically pleasing (“becoming”), and it should be plain and modest (“not showy at all”). Those sound like good Christian principles to me. And despite the Web site’s claims for the picture you referred to, Mrs. White’s attire in that photograph complies with these standards. See also the preceding question and answer.

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