By Eric Anderson on April 26, 2019
Recently, Pacific Union College’s archivist, Katharine Van Arsdale, found the missing page of a crucial handwritten document, long-thought to be lost. This discovery (or re-discovery) completed an academic detective story many years in the making.
In 2015, Van Arsdale examined what appeared to be a letter from Ellen G. White in a small metal cabinet designed to store maps. She noted the letter (dated 1882) was incomplete and lacked a signature, although someone had written in pencil the author was Mrs. White, co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. In January of this year, several scholars examined the document, immediately recognizing the Adventist leader’s distinctive style, penmanship, and spelling.
After fielding questions from denominational archivists and scholars from around the country, Van Arsdale was determined to learn more about the letter. She conducted a thorough inventory of the college’s historical materials and, much to her surprise, found the rest of the letter, complete with signature. The second page of the densely written letter had been separated from the first and stored for years in a different file.
“I was delighted the letter was preserved,” she says, “but mystified by how it was organized.”
According to Van Arsdale, one of her predecessors, Gary Shearer, first found...