James Edson White
1849 - 1928
James Edson was the second and oldest surviving son of James and Ellen White. He started working at age fifteen in the Review and Herald Publishing Association and became proficient in all aspects of printing. That skill was coupled with an astute business sense inherited from his father. In 1870 he married Emma MacDearmon, whose sister later married Franklin Edson Belden, a noted early Seventh-day Adventist musician.
In 1877, White was asked to go to Oakland, California, to serve as secretary for the recently established Pacific SDA Publishing Association, where, in his three years there, he was business manager. While there, he became deeply involved in and worked closely with Belden and D. S. Hakes in the production of the 1878 Song Anchor, a Sabbath School songbook.
After returning to Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1880, he became connected with the Sabbath School work, serving for over six years in developing this aspect of the church's work. In 1886, he assisted in producing a second Sabbath School songbook, Joyful Greetings for the Sabbath School.
During this time he also started the J. E. White Publishing Company, which in the mid-1880s did the typesetting for both music and words for Hymns and Tunes, the second official hymnal of the Adventist church, released in 1886.
In his forties, he felt the need to reach out to the Black community and by 1894 had outfitted a steamboat, The Morning Star, where he could live and conduct schools for the illiterate and print and distribute materials for that purpose. His outreach to this group led to the building of schools and helped develop the Adventist work in the South.
Sources: Wayne H. Hooper and Edward E. White, Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 1988, Review and Herald Publishing Association, 313-14; Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Second Revised Edition, Volume 11, (Review and Herald Publishing Association 1996) 889.