194-. William E. Perrin, Canadian Union Conference Treasurer. Database on-line. Center for Adventist Research Image Database. http://centerforadventistresearch.org/photos (accessed Dec 3, 2019).

Perrin, William Elmer (1875–1951) and Sarah Viola (Carpenter) (1877–1958)

By Cheryl Christo Howson


Cheryl Christo Howson earned a graduate diploma in computer aided interior designing at the Dr. Bhanuben Nanavati College of Architecture for Women in Pune, India. She co-founded an interior design company in Sri Lanka and worked as a copywriter. She contributed to the morning devotional published by Women’s Ministries at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, the Shepherdess International Journal magazine, and the Adventist Review. She has written several plays. Currently (2020), she lives in Hosur, India while preparing for a piano exam.

First Published: January 29, 2020

William Elmer Perrin served the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a pioneer missionary, printer, administrator, and editor, with his wife, Sarah, in the United States, Canada, and the Southern Asia Division.

Early Life, Education, and Marriage

William Elmer Perrin was born March 7, 1875, in Iowa, USA.1 He was brought up in a Seventh-day Adventist home, but received his education in public schools and by correspondence.2

He married Sarah Viola Carpenter, daughter of Sarah Butler (1848-1881) and Albert Wesley Carpenter (1848-1932). Sarah Viola was born February 12, 1877, in Ohio, USA, and had an older sister Bertha M. Harris (1873-1942). Unfortunately, their mother died when Sarah was four years old, and her father remarried.3

Sarah and William had two children, Harry W. born in April 1895, and Irma G. Radke (commonly known as Geraldine) born in 1908 in Iowa.4

Career and Ministry

William entered church work in 1900 as a typesetter for the Worker’s Bulletin, published by the Iowa Tract Society. Later, he edited the paper and served as bookkeeper for the society.5 He also served as secretary for the Religious Liberty Department of the Northern Union Conference.6

In response to an invitation from the General Conference Committee, W. E. Perrin and his family traveled to India7 to take over the publishing work from Elder J. C. Little, thus enabling him to take up field work.8 The family arrived in Lucknow on January 16, 1909, along with the Beckners and Leechs.9 By June 1909, Sarah Viola and the children were residing at Ann Field School, Mussoorie.10

When the first church was organized in Lucknow by Pastor S. A. Wellman in 1910, the ten charter members included Mr. and Mrs. Perrin with their son Harry.11

In January 1909 the machinery, the type, and all the rest of the pioneer printing office were moved from Karmatar to Lucknow, 19 Banks Road.12 It was a poorly equipped plant in a crowded warehouse.13 William immediately got to work as the manager of the India Publishing House. With J. C. Little’s untimely death in 1910, the editing and manager responsibilities fell upon William’s shoulders.14 He was the editor of the Eastern Tidings from 1909 until 1915. He worked with several assistant editors during that time, J. L. Shaw from 1911 to 1912, G. W. Pettit in 1913, and H. R. Salisbury from 1913 to 1914.15

During his time as editor, the printing work became self-supporting, including the salary of the superintendent. In 1914 a generous donation was made by the Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain View, California, United States—a fine lithograph press, with which Urdu printing could be done; as well as a type-casting machine. This made the press one of the best equipped printing plants in North India, enabling them to print small books of Bible readings in five local languages—Urdu, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, and Burmese–which was a huge step forward.16 In 1914 he was elected secretary of the India Union Mission as well.17

Unfortunately, the education of their children and the failing health of the aged parents of both Brother and Sister Perrin caused them to ask to return to America. After six years of faithful service, the Perrin family left Lucknow on March 15, 1915, on the same boat as Mrs. Qantock.18

From 1916 to 1918 they lived in Holly, Michigan, where W. E. Perrin was the secretary of the tract society and the treasurer of the East Michigan Conference. From 1918 to 1919, he was the treasurer of the New England Sanitarium in Melrose, Massachusetts. And from 1919 to 1921, he was secretary-treasurer of the Greater New York Conference.19

In 1920, W. E. Perrin was asked to fill a need in the Southern Asia Division as an auditor. At the same time his son, H. W. Perrin, was requested to help with vernacular work. W. E. Perrin agreed and the family arrived in India in September 1921. Although stationed at Poona, his work required him to travel all over the field.20

In March 1924, when he and Cyril Hart spent six weeks checking the books of the Meiktila School and Burma Union Mission, they worked early and late, even having dinner while working. W. E. Perrin explained that he worked in such haste because he disliked being gone from home for so long.21

In 1929 the Perrins went to Canada, where he was secretary-treasurer of the Eastern Canadian Union Conference (1929-1937).22 He was also editor of the Eastern Canadian Messenger, (now Canadian Adventist Messenger).23 He was later an administrator (1937-1939) of the Rest Haven Sanitarium, from which position he was forced by ill health to retire in 1939.24

Later Life and Legacy

W. E. Perrin and his wife lived with their daughter Geraldine in Vancouver, Washington, for a while before moving to California due to his failing health, to be near their son, Dr. Harry Perrin. On April 15, 1951, a little over a year after their move, Elder Perrin passed away quietly.25 Mrs. Perrin moved back to live with her daughter until her death on July 25, 1958.26

William and Sarah Perrin were among the ten members of the first organized Seventh-day Adventist church in India. While William was manager of the press in India, it became self-sufficient and the old equipment was replaced with state-of-the-art machinery, thanks to a generous donation. Wherever he went while serving in other administrative posts, William Perrin continued to use his talents of printing and editing to further the gospel reach as much as possible.


“Albert Wesley Carpenter.” Find A Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/100195408/albert-wesley-carpenter.

Brisbin, R. D. “Items of Interest.” Eastern Tidings, June 15, 1916.

Brisbin, R. D. “The Past and the Future.” India Union Tidings, October 15, 1917.

Eastern Tidings, January 1909.

Fernando, R. S. “The Lucknow Church.” Eastern Tidings, June 1, 1935.

“Here and There.” India Union Tidings, September 1, 1918.

Perrin, W. E. “A Word with Our Workers in India.” Eastern Tidings, January 1909.

Perrin, W. E. “Death of Elder J. C. Little.” Eastern Tidings, August 15, 1910.

Peterson, A. M. “Tidings Profile.” Southern Asia Tidings, June 1, 1976.

Pettit, G. W. “Death of W. E. Perrin.” Eastern Tidings, April 15, 1951.

Phillips, Mrs. J. “Burma Union Mission: News Notes.” Eastern Tidings, March 15, 1924.

Salisbury, H. R. “Returning Workers.” Eastern Tidings, April 15, 1915.

Salisbury, H. R. “Superintendent’s Biennial Report.” Eastern Tidings, January 15, 1915.

“Sarah Viola Carpenter Perrin.” Find A Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/176823639/sarah-viola-perrin.

Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Second revised edition. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1996.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, various years. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

“William Elmer Perrin,” Find A Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/21481051/william-elmer-perrin.


  1. “William Elmer Perrin,” Find A Grave, accessed November 7, 2019, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/21481051/william-elmer-perrin.

  2. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (1996), s.v. “Perrin, William Elmer.”

  3. “Sarah Viola Carpenter Perrin,” Find A Grave, accessed November 7, 2019, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/176823639/sarah-viola-perrin. “Albert Wesley Carpenter,” Find A Grave, accessed November 7, 2019, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/100195408/albert-wesley-carpenter.

  4. “Sarah Viola Carpenter Perrin,” Find A Grave.

  5. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (1996), s.v. “Perrin, William Elmer.”

  6. “Northern Union Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1908, 55.

  7. W. E. Perrin, “A Word with Our Workers in India,” Eastern Tidings, January 1909, 5.

  8. W. E. Perrin, “Death of Elder J. C. Little,” Eastern Tidings, August 15, 1910, 1, 3.

  9. Eastern Tidings, January 1909, 6.

  10. W. E. Perrin, Eastern Tidings, June 1909, 6.

  11. R. S. Fernando, “The Lucknow Church,” Eastern Tidings, June 1, 1935, 6.

  12. R. D. Brisbin, “The Past and the Future,” Indian Union Tidings, October 15, 1917, 5.

  13. H. R. Salisbury, “Returning Workers,” Eastern Tidings, April 15, 1915, 2, 16.

  14. W. E. Perrin, “Death of Elder J. C. Little.”

  15. A. M. Peterson, “Tidings Profile,” Southern Asia Tidings, June 1, 1976, 2; “Publishing Houses,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1909, 163.

  16. H. R. Salisbury, “Superintendent’s Biennial Report,” Eastern Tidings, January 15, 1915, 2.

  17. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (1996), s.v. “Perrin, William Elmer.”

  18. H. R. Salisbury, “Superintendent’s Biennial Report.”

  19. R. D. Brisbin, “Items of Interest,” Eastern Tidings, June 15, 1916, 12; “Here and There,” India Union Tidings, September 1, 1918, 8.

  20. E. B. Jones, Eastern Tidings, October 1, 1921, 8.

  21. Mrs. J. Phillips, “Burma Union Mission: News Notes,” Eastern Tidings, March 15, 1924, 6.

  22. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (1996), s.v. “Perrin, William Elmer.”

  23. “Union Conference Periodicals,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1930, 330; “Union Conference Periodicals,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1933, 264; Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (1996(, “Canadian Adventist Messenger.”

  24. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (1996), s.v. “Perrin, William Elmer.”

  25. G. W. Pettit, “Death of W. E. Perrin,” Eastern Tidings, April 15, 1951, 8.

  26. “Sarah Viola Carpenter Perrin,” Find A Grave; Pettit, 8.


Howson, Cheryl Christo. "Perrin, William Elmer (1875–1951) and Sarah Viola (Carpenter) (1877–1958)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed February 22, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=3I3P.

Howson, Cheryl Christo. "Perrin, William Elmer (1875–1951) and Sarah Viola (Carpenter) (1877–1958)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access February 22, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=3I3P.

Howson, Cheryl Christo (2020, January 29). Perrin, William Elmer (1875–1951) and Sarah Viola (Carpenter) (1877–1958). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved February 22, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=3I3P.