Mrs. Ruth White was an influential and a devoted Baha’i. She met Abdul-Baha in Boston in 1912, and who twice visited him shortly before his death in Haifa, became an enthusiastic admirer and disciple of the Master. When Abdul-Baha died in November, 1921, a cable signed by the sister of Abdul-Baha was received in America in January, 1922, stating that Shoghi Efendi had been appointed in the Will as “Guardian of the Cause and Head of the House of Justice.” This news came to Mrs. White and other in America “like a thunder bolt out of a blue sky,” for they had never heard Abdul-Baha say anything about appointing a successor. After four weeks a typed copy of the Will was received in America, undated and unsigned. As Mrs. White studied this document, she eventually came to realize that it contained laws which, in her opinion, would change completely the Baha’i teaching. Of these she mentions the following: (1)
First: The appointment of a continual line of successors or popes for a thousand years who are to control man’s conscience…
Second: These successors are to be supreme dictators over the House of Justice
Thirdly: The taxes… which were to be paid to the House of Justice are to be paid to Shoghi Effendi.
Fourthly: There was to be no organization of the religion itself, and no paid officials or priest- craft, yet despite this the Baha’is, at the dictation of Shoghi Effendi, have incorporated the Baha’i Religion and are trying to control it through a more bigoted priest-craft than almost any other in existence.
As time passed Mrs. White became convinced that this alleged Will could not be authentic. She therefore requested Mr. Holley and Mr. Mills, the chief men in the American Baha’i Administration, to submit a photographic copy of the Persian original to an expert and get his opinion. They did not do this. So, Mrs. White herself, at great personal expense and trouble, went to England in 1928 and succeeded in acquiring a photographic copy of the Will, and gave it to a recognized expert to examine. While in England she discovered that there “the administration of Shoghi Effendi has brought chaos to the Baha’i Cause. Lady Bloomfield (2) said: “there was practically no longer a Baha’i Cause in England,” (3) The handwriting expert for the British Museum, Dr. C. Ainsworth Mitchell, after long and careful study, on June 3, 1930 wrote a detailed report to Mrs. White, in which he stated: “A minute comparison of the authenticated writing [of Abdul-Baha] with the writing on every page of the alleged will… has failed to detect in any part of the will the characteristics of the writing of Abdul-Baha.” (4)
In four of her books and pamphlets (5) Mrs. White professed complete devotion to Abdul-Baha, but brought a most scathing indictment against his grandson and the Baha’i Administration. Later, however, it seems that Mrs. White transferred her devotion from Abdul-Baha to a man in India named Mehr Baba, who had a considerable following as a result of maintaining unbroken silence since the year 1925, and in 1957 she wrote enthusiastically about visiting her new hero. It is reported that in 1969 Mrs. White, at the age of 100 went to India “to take Mehr Baba’s Darshan.” (6)
Regarding Mrs. White’s efforts to prove that the Will was a forgery, Shoghi Effendi wrote as follows: (7) “The agitation provoked by a deluded woman who strove diligently both in the United States and in England to demonstrate the unauthenticity of the Charter… and even to induce the civil authorities of Palestine to take legal action in the matter – a request which to her great chagrin was curtly refused as well as the defection of one of the earliest pioneers and founders of the Faith in Germany whom that same woman had so tragically misled, produced no effect whatsoever.”
It is evident that whatever the merits of the case were, the civil authorities of Palestine would be unable to take any action on a Will which had not been probated. Accordingly, the Baha’i administration, unwilling to submit the Will for a probate, and unhappy that anyone should undertake an “independent investigation of truth” as to the authenticity of the Will, did nothing but denounce the investigator and ignore her charges.
While some like Mrs. White had their doubts as to the authenticity of the Will, there were others who accepted the Will as authentic, but were unhappy about the way in which the Guardian used the authority which the Will had bestowed upon him.
Here, we mentioned the letter of Mrs. White in detailed.
Ruth White’s letter to the High Commissioner of Palestine
To His Excellency
The High Commissioner of Palestine
October 7, 1930
As a victim of a fraud, which is being perpetrated under the Mandatory Power now governing Palestine, I wish to make a complaint against Shoghi Effendi, of the Persian Colony, at Haifa Palestine.
Shoghi Effendi is collecting money from the people of the various nations of the world under the powers granted him in an alleged will which he claims is the will of Sir Abdul-Baha Abbas, and in which he is appointed successor of Sir Abdu-Baha Abbas. I base my assertion that a fraud is being perpetrated by Shoghi Effendi on the following facts:
About three months after the death of Sir Abdul-Baha Abbas, in November 1921, typewritten copies of an English translation of a document were sent to England, America, and other countries, which Shoghi Effendi alleged is the will of Sir Abdul-Baha Abbas, appointing him his successor. This alleged will is undated, unwitnessed, probated, and unstamped by the Government. It also contradicts the intent that its alleged maker held during his lifetime. for the alleged will commands people to obey Shoghi Effendi as if he were God, and to pay a tax to him. This is the motive of the fraud–money and power (8) …
I have submitted the photographs of the alleged will to Dr. C. Ainsworth Mitchell, the renowned English handwriting expert, and editor of The Analyst, at 85 Eccleston Square London, S.W.1. and his report shows that this document is fraudulent. No part of it was written by Abdul-Baha. Shoghi Effendi ignored my request for permission to send a handwriting expert to Haifa to examine the original document … I am not making this complaint merely because of the money. I have contributed, as this is small compared to the expense that I have incurred in collecting evidence against Shoghi Effendi. But I am making this complaint in order to protect the public from a fraud, and a movement, which under Shoghi Effendi has become far more subversive than that of Bolshevism. For Shoghi Effendi aims to become world dictator, and he is establishing enemy states within each state, and collecting taxes from the people of these enemy states. All this is contrary to the teachings of Sir Abdul-Baha Abbas whose successor he claims to be (8-9).
“That is to say, the writing does not agree with the hypothesis that it was all written by one person.”
“A minute comparison of the authenticated writing with the writing on every page of the alleged will . . . has failed to detect in any part of the will the characteristics of the writing of Abdul-Baha, as shown in the authenticated specimens.” Dr. C. Ainsworth Mitchell.
The attempts to discredit Dr. Mitchell and Ruth White have relied on, for over 75 years, slander and ad hominem and are no more convincing now than they have ever been. Note the attempt to shift, from his conclusion and call for an examination of the original, to the man himself. Classic ad hominem.
I ask the reader to reflect on the fact that Dr. Mitchell remains one of the most respected forensic researchers of the 20th century and is still quoted and cited by academics and legal experts. His professional integrity is beyond question as is and was his ability to assess the authenticity of the purported will itself. As the document curator for the British Museum, Dr. Mitchell used techniques and methods still widely used and recognized, whether or not one has a command of the language being scrutinized. Knowledge of a language in and of itself has never been the essential for handwriting experts, and informed people know that to be a fact. Those who seek to conceal the act of forgery hope to confuse the uninformed about what is involved. See the link at the bottom to one of his books available online.
Ruth White placed Dr. Mitchell’s signed Report on the Writing Shown on the Photographs of the Alleged Will of Abdul-Baha with the Library of Congress in 1930. Certified copy below.
A bibliography of Dr. C. Ainsworth Mitchell’s published work is available from the Library of Congress at the bottom of this page. (10)
1. The Baha’i Religion and its Enemy the Baha’i Organization, by Ruth White, The Tuttle Company, Rutland, Vermont 1929.
2. Author of The Chosen Highway, Baha’i Publishing Trust.
3. Abdul-Baha and the Promised Age, by Ruth White, 1927, Appendix, p. 17.
4. Abdul-Baha’s Alleged Will is Fraudulent, by Ruth White, 1930, p. 16.
5. Some years later Mrs. White wrote yet another book, Baha’i Leads Out of the Labyrinth, 1944, which is similar to Abdul-Baha and the Promised Age.
6. Letter from Mollie Lux, Mehr Spiritual Center, Myrtle Beach, S.C., to J. Anthony Sistrom. It is reported that Mehr Baba died in 1969.
7. God Passes By, p. 362.
8. Dr. C. (Charles) Ainsworth Mitchell – Certified Copy from the Library of Congress Report on the Writing Shown on the Photographs of the Alleged Will of Abdul-Baha. 1930:
9. Download All Documents Deposited by Ruth White at the Library of Congress in one PDF:
10. Ruth White, Excerpts, Bibliography
Works of Mrs. Ruth White
1-White, Ruth. Abdul-Baha and the Promised Age xv, 224. New York: Ruth White (Also New York: J. J. Little and Ives), 1927. Bjorland p. 152 Collins 12.130.
2-White, Ruth. Abdul-Baha’s Alleged Will is Fraudulent: An Appendix to The Baha’i Religion and Its Enemy, the Baha’i Organization. 21. Rutland, Vt.: The Tuttle Co., 1930. Bjorland p. 152 Collins 12.131.
3-White, Ruth. Abdul-Baha’s Questioned Will and Testament. 129. Beverly Hills: White, 1946. Bjorland p.152 Collins 12.132.
4-White, Ruth. Baha’i Leads Out of the Labyrinth. 259. New York: Universal Publishing Co., 1944. Bjorland p. 152 Collins 12.133.
5-White, Ruth. Correspondence between the High Commissioner of Palestine and Ruth White, Concerning the Alleged Will and Testament of Sir Abdul-Baha Abbas. 11. Los Angeles, Calif.: White, 1932. Bjorland, p.153 Collins 12.135.
6-White, Ruth. Is the Baha’i Organization the Enemy of the Baha’i Religion? An Appendix to Abdul-Baha and the Promised Age. 22. New York: White, 1929. Bjorland, p. 153 Collins 12.136. 7. White, Ruth. The Baha’i Religion and Its Enemy, the Baha’i Organization. 233. Rutland, Vt.: The Tuttle Co., 1929. Bjorland, p. 153 Collins 12.134.