Search For Quotes In Ellen White's Writings


After having read from Ellen White's writings for more than 30 years, I continue to be amazed at the many wonderful articles and quotations that I have never read before.

Quoting the White Estate website regarding her literary work: "At the time of her death Ellen White's literary productions totaled approximately 100,000 pages: 24 books in current circulation; two book manuscripts ready for publication; 5,000 periodical articles in the journals of the church; more than 200 tracts and pamphlets; approximately 35,000 typewritten pages of manuscript documents and letters; 2,000 handwritten letters and diary materials comprising, when copied, another 15,000 typewritten pages. Compilations made after her death from Ellen White's writings bring the total number of books currently in print to more than 130." 

Reading Is Necessary To Fully Appreciate Her Writings

These numbers attest to the volume of writing that was taking place. However, you cannot appreciate what you are reading, unless you actually read some of the books, articles and letters for yourself. Regarding the letters, some of them are twenty or thirty pages long—at least on the device that I am using—and written in the most beautiful and profound language you can imagine. You also discover a richness of vocabulary that is nothing short of amazing. One comes to the conclusion that more than human power was at work as these documents were being written. 

Reading also negates claims that she was busily copying the words of others. The letters, for example, are on too many varied subjects, written too beautifully and are too long—way too long, for her to have been able to find words from others quickly enough to write down as her own. That she sometimes used phrases or ideas that were similar to others is without question, but it didn't happen very often, and was similar to the practice of others, such as John Wesley, who admitted quoting others in the interest of clearly expressing an idea, not looking to the quoted author to validate what he was trying to say.

Effective Searching Is Needed

Because of the volume of writing, searching for quotes can result in thousands of hits—far more than a person can possibly study. To narrow the quotes down to more manageable numbers, it is helpful to (1) search for phrases instead of individual words, (2) combine phrases with individual words to further stratify the end result and (3) use boolean search operators to minimize the need to search through the same quotes multiple times when looking for a slightly different shades of meaning. 

For many years I didn't know how to do this, which meant much of my reading was confined to the published books. Over time, however, I learned how to search using phrases in quotation marks and boolean search operators, and began finding quotes that always eluded me in the past. I will attempt to share what I have learned.

What You Will Learn

I will give suggestions on how to search for phrases using quotations,  and combinations of words and phrases. I will also share how to do boolean search, which up to now has worked in the Folio Views data depository.

I hope what I share proves helpful. Write if you need further clarification.—Dan



Search Phrases Using Quotation Marks

To appreciate the value of searching in this way, take one of the key words and do a search for it in Folio Views or the site on the web. You will be surprised at how many quotations you find. Then put in a phrase that is closer to what you are looking for. You will end up getting fewer quotes, but those fewer quotes will be highly targeted for what you were seeking.

How To Search Using Quotation Marks

If you are looking up a phrase, put the phrase in quotation marks— ("desired phrase") — and look it up. Such a search will return all the places the phrase is used. You can use this in the Folio Views or on the site.


Search Using Boolean Search Operators

You can also use Boolean search operators to find even more quotes.

Boolean Search Operators are short "one word" commands that can be entered into a search string that will bring back very specific results and save you a great amount of time.

Use The "OR" Command

Here is a sample string, searching for quotes about intercessory prayer:

(prayer OR prayers OR praying OR entreat OR entreating OR supplicating OR begging OR petition OR wrestling) (intercession OR intercede)

Notice that in the first set of parentheses you find various words for prayer. The words are joined by the word "OR." "OR" is a boolean search operator that tells the search engine to bring back any quotes that include any of the words in this first set of parentheses. 

Within the second set of parentheses you find two words that describe intercession. The "OR" operator tells the search engine to bring back any quotes that have either of these words.

Notice that there are two sets of parentheses. Because there are two sets of parentheses, the search engine is told to search for any quotes that have a word from the first group, and any quotes that also have any word from the second group.

If you search for the word "prayer" by itself, you will get back 12,300 hits. If you enter the word "pray," you get 6,774 hits. If you enter the word "prayed,"  you get 2,537 hits. The word "praying" results in 2,034 hits. "Entreat" gets 667 hits. "Entreating" gets 126 hits. Supplications gets 271 hits. Supplicate gets 14 hits. Intercession gets 750 hits. Intercede gets 81 hits. You get the idea. You will spend months going through all of these quotes if you do them one word at a time.

Put in "prayer" and "intercession" and you will get 116 hits. That is more manageable. "Pray" and "intercession" gets 61 hits, also manageable. 

But do you really want to go through all of these words individually? Why not use the OR command and have all the words on prayer, matched with the words on intercession, and get more results than just the individual pairs. Entering the search string, instead of getting 116 hits, or 61 hits, you get 236 hits. Now you are working more efficiently!

Here is the string (note that there must be at least one word in each set of words in parentheses):

(prayer OR pray OR prayed OR praying OR entreat OR entreating OR supplications OR supplicate OR intercession OR intercede OR request) (answer OR answers OR "prayer hearing")

It can be a bit tricky to get it to work. On my mac, I find that entering the word or will usually look like this to begin with: oR. To correct it, I move the curser back to just left of the "R" and delete and then put it the capital "O." Then it works. For years I couldn't get it to work, but finally figured it out. Try to use boolean search. It is well worth the effort. 

Boolean search works with the Folio Views from what I can tell, but I don't know beyond that.


Search Using Other Boolean Search Operators

There are other boolean search operators that you should know about. I have listed some of them below.


XOR would include one of the words, but not the other. For example David XOR Goliath would bring up quotations that included either David or Goliath, but no quotations that include both. Here is the sample string: David XOR Goliath



When you use NOT, you find the first word, but not the second word. This is helpful if you are trying to find quotations on a subject, but don't want to find the hundreds of quotes that may be associated with a particular story.  For example, marriage NOT Cana, would bring up quotes that had marriage, but exclude those that include the word Cana. Here is the sample string: marriage NOT Cana.


Combining Operators

You can combine the operators. Here are two samples from folio views: (David XOR Goliath) NOT Saul or (David AND (Goliath OR Philistine)) NOT Saul. With this string, you would find quotes that included either David or Goliath, but not Saul. In the second sample you would find quotes that included David and either Goliath or Philistine, but not Saul. This saves a tremendous amount of time.


Use Wild Card Operators

Wild Card Operators can do a variety of things, including bring forms of words, synonyms of words, different spelling of words, etc. 


Single-Character—?—Wild Card 
This wild card brings back words that include all the words around the question mark. The use of this wild card looks like the following: ?aul. It would bring any words that have the ending "aul." These might include Paul and Saul (both referring to the first king of Israel and to Paul's name early in life. You can use two quotations marks to bring even more variety. In Folio Views they give the following example: Sh??er finds sharer, shiver, and shower. 


?ark brings park, bark, dark, mark, etc.

??ark brings clark and spark.


Multiple-Character—*—Wild Card
The use of this wild card looks like this (using Folio Views' example): Sh*er finds a dozen words, including Shalmaneser, sharper, shatter, shoulder, and shudder. Colo*r will find every occurrence of the word color or the British spelling colour. Sometimes when you don't know how to spell a word this command comes in really handy.


p*er brings Peter, power, prayer, powder, etc.

invit* brings invite, inviting, etc.


Wild Form—%—Wild Card
This wild care brings different forms of the word used. In use the % the wild card looks like this(using Folio Views' example): Bear% finds the following: Bear, Bore, Bearing, Bears. This command is only used at the end of one word. This works on google at this time, but I haven't been able to get it to work with Folio Views.


Wild Form—$—Wild Card
This wild card brings back synonyms of the word. It also ONLY comes at the end of a word. Using Folio Views' example: Spirit% returns 50 synonyms of the word "Spirit," including vitality, consciousness, ghost, angel, attitude, feeling, frame of mind, character. Does not work at this time on Folio views.


Boolean Search Summary

You can save yourself much time by using these operators and find many quotes you would not find otherwise. The same operators work when doing google searches on the internet. They are worth learning.