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Peoples Temple Collection, 1942-2019 | Special Collections & University Archives

By Taylor de Klerk

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Collection Overview

Title: Peoples Temple Collection, 1942-2019Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

Predominant Dates:1972-2011

Primary Creator: Peoples Temple (1955-1978)

Extent: 66.13 Linear Feet

Arrangement:

I. Peoples Temple Christian Church

     1. Redwood Valley, Ukiah, and San Francisco, California

     2. Peoples Temple Agricultural Project (Jonestown)

     3. Post-Jonestown

II. Audiovisual Materials

     1. Audio Cassette Tapes, Summaries, and Transcripts

          a. Audio Cassette Tapes

          b. Summaries and Transcripts by the Jonestown Institute

          c. Summaries by the Federal Bureau of Investigation

     2. Photographs

          a. Peoples Temple Photographs

          b. Federal Bureau of Investigation Photographs

          c. Moore Family Photographs

          d. California Historical Society Photographs

          e. Time Magazine Photograph

     3. DVDs

     4. Compact Discs and Vinyl Records

     5. CD-ROMs

     6. VHS Tapes

     7. Microfilm and Microfiche

III. Investigation Files

     1. Federal Investigation

          a. Litigation Files

          b. Released Information

          c. Documents Related to Larry Layton's Petition for Commutation of Sentence

     2. Private Investigation

IV. Jonestown Institute Files

V. Publications

     1. Published and Unpublished Works of Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Drama

     2. Newspapers, News Magazines, and News Clippings

     3. Scanned News Clippings

     4. Correspondence Regarding Publications

VI. Original Works of Art

Date Acquired: 00/00/2003. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: Guyana--Religion--Sources, Jones, Jim, 1931-1978, Jonestown Mass Suicide, Jonestown, Guyana, 1978--Sources, Mass suicide--Guyana--History--20th century--Sources, Peoples Temple--History--Sources

Forms of Material: Audio Recordings, Organizational Records

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Peoples Temple Collection (1942-2015) documents portions of the history of Peoples Temple, before and after the mass-suicide and murders in 1978. The collection consists of litigation materials derived Freedom of Information Act requests, copies of original unclassified documents, publications, audiovisual materials, artifacts, and artwork and pays particular attention to the events that unfolded for survivors and relatives after the tragedy. The collection is divided into six series: Peoples Temple Christian Church, Audiovisual Materials, Investigation Files, Jonestown Institute Files, Publications, and Original Works of Art.

The Peoples Temple Christian Church series is organized chronologically with sub-series divided into periods of the church’s history: Redwood Valley, Ukiah, and San Francisco, California, Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, and Post-Jonestown. Within each sub-series, materials are organized alphabetically. Redwood Valley, Ukiah, and San Francisco, California consists of administrative and promotional materials. Peoples Temple Agricultural Project includes correspondence from Jonestown, declarations and affidavits, and a progress report. Ann Moore’s last letter, written shortly before her death, is particularly notable. The Post-Jonestown sub-series is comprised of correspondence, memorial service programs and memorabilia, and artifacts recovered from Jonestown. Laurie Efrein’s papers are also included in this sub-series, which contain her research into conspiracy theories about the deaths in 1978.

Audiovisual Materials is the largest of the six series in this collection, and is divided into seven sub-series according to material type: Audio Cassette Tapes, Summaries, and Transcripts, Photographs, DVDs, Compact Discs and Vinyl Records, CD-ROMs, VHS Tapes, and Microfilm and Microfiche.

The most significant of these sub-series is Audio Cassette Tapes, Summaries, and Transcripts, which is further divided as Audio Cassette Tapes, Summaries and Transcripts by the Jonestown Institute, and Summaries by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Tapes retrieved by the FBI at Jonestown are identified by the letter Q, followed by a number (e.g., Q134), which was arbitrarily assigned by the FBI after the agency's initial review and copying of the original reel-to-reel audio recordings. In addition to the FBI cassette tapes, the collection contains 24 tapes of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recordings of Temple shortwave radio traffic and 59 assorted recordings by psychologist Margaret Singer, a renowned expert in the subject of mind control. Singer became interested in Peoples Temple shortly before the deaths in Jonestown in November 1978. She was asked to work with former members at the Human Freedom Center, an organization established to help people leave the Temple.  For more complete biographical information on Margaret Singer, click here.

Digital copies of nearly all materials are provided, as well as a Personal Name Index to facilitate research.

In addition, the Photographs sub-series has been divided into: Peoples Temple Photographs, Federal Bureau of Investigation Photographs, Moore Family Photographs, California Historical Society Photographs, and Time Magazine Photograph. Peoples Temple Photographs consists of membership and passport photographs. The Federal Bureau of Investigation Photographs sub-sub-series includes photographs taken by the investigative group shortly after the deaths at Jonestown. Moore Family Photographs consists of three photograph albums containing family photographs and photographs from John and Barbara Moore’s visit to Jonestown. The other sub-sub-series are: California Historical Society Photographs, which are housed on CD-ROMs, and Time Magazine Photograph.

The Investigation Files series consists of two sub-series: Federal Investigation and Private Investigation, both organized alphabetically. Federal Investigation is further sub-divided as Litigation Files,  Released Information, and Documents Related to Larry Layton's Petition for Commutation of Sentence. Litigation Files consists of the correspondence, court documents, and notes from Fielding McGehee III and Rebecca Moore’s suits against the United States government to procure information through the Freedom of Information Act. Released Information includes copies of original unclassified documents given to McGehee and Moore by the government. The documents include a collection of various papers retrieved from Jonestown that include personnel files and member profiles; financial and medical inventories and records; affidavits, letters, and diaries written by Peoples Temple members; contact information between Jonestown and various countries; and documents of contact between Peoples Temple and various U.S. government agencies. Documents Related to Larry Layton's Petition for Commutation of Sentence consists of documents pertaining to Layton's case, including items such as letters from jurors, letters from prosecution witnesses, and transcripts from the hearing. The Private Investigation sub-series is made up of bills, correspondence, notes, and requests for information from the federal government gathered during the course of a private investigation.

Jonestown Institute Files is organized alphabetically and comprised of correspondence, materials for the “Persons Who Died” list, copies of the jonestown report newsletter, and oral history project materials.

The Publications series is divided into Published and Unpublished works of Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Drama, Newspapers, News Magazines, and News Clippings, Scanned News Clippings, and Correspondence Regarding Publications. Published and Unpublished Works of Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Drama is organized alphabetically by the author’s last name. Notable works include Edith Roller’s journal (more information here), Rebecca Moore’s scholarly works, and Michael Bellefountaine’s work on A Lavender Look at the Temple. Bellefountaine’s drafts are numbered, but not in chronological order. Newspapers, News Magazines, and News Clippings consist of news items published before and after the events on November 18, 1978 in various formats. Materials are organized alphabetically by publication title. Scanned News Clippings consists of a list of PDF scans of news articles focused on Peoples Temple and Jonestown that are available by request. Correspondence Regarding Publications consists of letters and other correspondence between various authors writing about Peoples Temple and Jonestown and either Rebecca Moore or Fielding McGehee.

Original Works of Art consists of five framed works of art, Laura Baird’s Jonestown Carpet, and ceramics that Larry Layton made while imprisoned.

Biographical Note

In 1954, a young preacher in Indianapolis, Indiana named James Warren Jones left his position with the Laurel Street Tabernacle of the Assemblies of God Pentecostal Church over the church's inability to accept racial integration. Together with other disaffected congregants, Jones founded a new, more open church named the Wings of Deliverance Church. As the congregation grew and gained mainline church affiliation, it adopted a new name: Peoples Temple Christian Church. Peoples Temple emphasized the need for racial integration and made social welfare projects its primary focus. As its views expanded, the congregation met much resistance from the public and thus was forced to move the location of the church numerous times. Eventually, Jones decided to leave Indiana. He chose the rural area of Redwood Valley in northern California as his destination after reading an article in Esquire magazine, which described it as one of the few places in the world that would survive a nuclear holocaust.

Redwood Valley and its nearest town, Ukiah, were idyllic, but they weren't perfect. Almost all-white, the area had difficulties of its own with a multiracial church. Jones acquired church facilities in San Francisco and Los Angeles, urban areas that were both more accepting of the Temples members and where the social services that the church offered were more needed. Jones eventually moved the main headquarters of the church to San Francisco but continued to minister in all three locations, sometimes during the same weekend.

Jones's sense of mission was not complete, however. Haunted by what he perceived as the inevitability of Americas nuclear annihilation and confronted on a daily basis with the inescapable racism he saw in American society, Jones looked elsewhere to build a utopian society which he referred to as the Promised Land. Its location was in Guyana, an English-speaking, black-governed socialist democracy on the north coast of South America. Beginning in 1974, Temple pioneers worked to construct the community formally known as the Peoples Temple Agricultural Mission, but better known as Jonestown, and leaders of the group planned for a slow, steady migration of Temple members to begin in mid-1977.

About that time, however, the Temple began receiving unfavorable news coverage generated by some of its apostates. The same disaffected members also filed lawsuits to reclaim property which they had previously donated to the church, as well as court petitions for custody of their relatives still in the church. Their allegations, and the press coverage of them, led to investigations by various federal and state government agencies, including ones that threatened the church's very existence, such as Internal Revenue Service. Jones' response was to speed up the migration to the Promised Land. What once was planned to extend over many months was reduced to a six-week period in late summer 1977.

Jones' problems didn't end there, though. The same Temple defectors, now united in an organization called Concerned Relatives, continued to call for government investigations and to press for decisions by American courts on their petitions. They also lobbied for congressional action, bringing their pleas to the attention of Leo Ryan (D-CA), the representative of several Temple members and families.

Congressman Ryan agreed to conduct a neutral, fact-finding mission in November of 1978 to assess the situation at Jonestown, but he took a number of Jones antagonists with him. Jones immediate inclination was to decline permission for a visit to the community, but his lawyers prevailed upon him to relent, and the Ryan party arrived in Jonestown on November 17. The visit seemed to go well on the first day, but on the second day, a number of Jonestown residents, unhappy with living and working conditions in the Promised Land, asked to leave with Ryan.

The events of the next few hours remain shrouded in mystery. What is known is that the Ryan party, now enlarged by 16 defectors, returned to a jungle airstrip at Port Kaituma, about five miles from Jonestown, in preparation to return to Guyana's capital of Georgetown and then back to the U.S. Shortly after their arrival at the airstrip, a tractor towing a flatbed trailer pulled up at the other end of the airstrip, and men on the trailer started firing weapons. A few minutes later, Ryan and four others were dead, and a half dozen more were wounded.

Meanwhile, back in Jonestown, Jones proclaimed that all was lost, and that when Guyanese military forces soon invaded the community, they shouldn't find anyone alive. According to a tape made during the final hours, Jones warned that they would be tortured, and that it was better to die by their own hands. Some of the few survivors deny that the deaths were by suicide, and point to the presence of guards and the injection marks found on many of the bodies. Whatever the circumstances, the results shocked the world: 909 dead at Jonestown, five dead at Port Kaituma, and four Temple members dead in Georgetown.

Subject/Index Terms

Guyana--Religion--Sources
Jones, Jim, 1931-1978
Jonestown Mass Suicide, Jonestown, Guyana, 1978--Sources
Mass suicide--Guyana--History--20th century--Sources
Peoples Temple--History--Sources

Administrative Information

Repository: Special Collections & University Archives

Accruals: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections is such that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine.  Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.

Acquisition Source: Rebecca Moore and Fielding McGehee III

Acquisition Method: Unclassified government documents were obtained by McGehee and Dr. Rebecca Moore and through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Related Materials:

Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple, sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies at San Diego State University.

San Diego State University Special Collections and University Archives:

     Jones Family Memorabilia Collection, (1962-2002), MS-0516

     Ann Elizabeth Moore Papers, (1956-1978), MS-0526

     Rebecca Moore Papers, (1951-2013), MS-0521

California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco, California  94105 (www.californiahistoricalsociety.org)

     1. Peoples Temple Records (1941-1983), MS 3800

     2. FBI Papers from Jonestown (1972-1978), MS 3801

     3. John R. Hall Research Materials (1978-1987), MS 3803

     4. Ross E. Case Papers (1961-1984), MS 4062

     5. Moore Family Papers (1968-1988), MS 3802

     6. Amateur movies documenting life at the Peoples Temple Agricultural Mission in Jonestown, Guyana. Digitized versions made available by the California Historical Society via the Internet Archive.

Graduate Theological Union Archives, 2400 Ridge Road, Berkeley, California  94709 (http://gtu.edu/library/information/special-collections)

     1. Center for the Study of New Religious Movements Collections (1977-1983), GTU 91-9-3

Preferred Citation: Identification of item, folder title, box number, Peoples Temple Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.

Other Note: A personal name index to the transcribed audio tapes is available online and in the Louis A. Kenney Reading Room.

Other URL: http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Peoples Temple Christian Church, 1972-2015],
[Series 2: Audiovisual Materials, 1957-2019],
[Series 3: Investigation Files, 1977-2012],
[Series 4: Jonestown Institute Files, 1998-2013],
[Series 5: Publications, 1942-2017],
[Series 6: Original Works of Art, 1974-1991],
[All]

Series 1: Peoples Temple Christian Church, 1972-2015Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 1: Redwood Valley, Ukiah, and San Francisco, California, 1972, n.d.Add to your cart.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Peoples Forum newsletters, 1976Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Planning notes, correspondence, calendar, Bible lesson, 1968, n.d.Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Promotional materials, 1972, n.d.Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 2: Peoples Temple Agricultural Project (Jonestown), 1975-1978Add to your cart.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Annie Moore's last letter, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Accusation by Concerned Relatives, April 11, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Barbara Moore's affidavit, August 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Carolyn Moore Layton's notes, September 1977Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Correspondence between John Moore and John Pairman "Jock" Brown, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Correspondence from John and Barbara Moore, 1975-1976Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Correspondence to John and Barbara Moore, 1976-1978Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Correspondence to John and Barbara Moore from Carolyn Moore Layton, 1976-1978Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Dennis Banks: Articles and declaration, 1977Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Ham radio postcards, February 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 14: John and Barbara Moore's trip to Guyana, 1977-1978Add to your cart.
Folder 15: List of relatives of members, n.d.Add to your cart.
Folder 16: Note from Annie Moore to Jim Jones, n.d.Add to your cart.
Folder 17: Peoples Temple Agricultural Project Progress Report, Summer 1977Add to your cart.
Folder 18: Public relations, 1977-1978Add to your cart.
Flat File 1Add to your cart.
Item 1: Resolution of the community, November 9, 1978Add to your cart.
Box 86Add to your cart.
Item 1: National Geographic map of Northwestern South America, 1964Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 3: Post-Jonestown, 1978-2015Add to your cart.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 19: Autopsy and death reports: Annie Moore, 1978-1979Add to your cart.
Folder 20: Autopsy and death reports: Carolyn Moore Layton, 1978-1979Add to your cart.
Folder 21: Black church consultation on Jonestown, 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 22: Correspondence between Gordon Melton and Rebecca Moore, 1998Add to your cart.
Folder 23: Correspondence between Mary Sawyer and Rebecca Moore, 1986-1990Add to your cart.
Folder 24: Correspondence from John Moore, 1978-1979Add to your cart.
Folder 25: Correspondence from Rebecca Moore, 1996-1999Add to your cart.
Folder 26: Correspondence from the California Historical Society, 1988-1998Add to your cart.
Folder 27: Correspondence regarding a Concerned Relatives book, 2005Add to your cart.
Folder 28: Correspondence regarding Larry Layton's trial, 1979-1986Add to your cart.
Box 2Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Correspondence to Grace Stoen-Jones, 1998Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Correspondence to Rebecca Moore, 1997-1999Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Laurie Efrein papers: Bleeding photographs, n.d.Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Laurie Efrein papers: Correspondence, 1998-1999Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Laurie Efrein papers: Correspondence, 1998-1999Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Laurie Efrein papers: Dennis Banks research, n.d.Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Laurie Efrein papers: Ham radio messages, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Laurie Efrein papers: Jim Jones' illness, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Laurie Efrein papers: Joseph Mazor research, n.d.Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Laurie Efrein papers: Kathy Hunter research, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Laurie Efrein papers: Mike Prokes' last statements, March 12, 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Laurie Efrein papers: Moore family research, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Laurie Efrein papers: Richard Tropp's book, n.d.Add to your cart.
Folder 14: Laurie Efrein papers: Teri Buford's final note, n.d.Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Laurie Efrein papers: Tim Stoen's visit to East Berlin, September 1961Add to your cart.
Folder 16: Laurie Efrein papers: Tragedy aftermath, 1979-1980, n.d.Add to your cart.
Folder 17: Laurie Efrein papers: United States and Soviet Union research, 1978, n.d.Add to your cart.
Folder 18: Joseph Mazor investigation, 1974-1979Add to your cart.
Folder 19: Memorial service: Carolyn, Ann, and Jim-Jon Moore, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 20: Memorial service: Charles R. Garry, September 22, 1991Add to your cart.
Folder 21: Memorial service: Jonestown, 2011Add to your cart.
Folder 22: Memorial service: Jonestown, n.d.Add to your cart.
Folder 23: Memorial service: Norwood family, 2011Add to your cart.
Folder 24: Memorial service: Walter Wayne Pietila, 2011Add to your cart.
Folder 25: Notes from meetings with Carlos V. "Skip" Roberts, Guyana Police Force, 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 26: Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ v. the Attorney General of California receiver's report, June 30, 1980Add to your cart.
Box 3Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ v. the Attorney General of California receiver's report, June 30, 1980Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Mary Sawyer: One of the Little Ones, 1981Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Mary Sawyer: Writings, eulogy, 2007-2015Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Jordan Vilchez: Cosmology of You, n.d.Add to your cart.
Box 4Add to your cart.
Item 1: Wooden puzzle piecesAdd to your cart.
Item 2: Rusted metal fileAdd to your cart.
Item 3: Golden Christmas ornamentAdd to your cart.
Item 4: Necklace with red beadsAdd to your cart.
Item 5: Windhorse prayer flag garlandAdd to your cart.
Item 6: Glass medicine bottleAdd to your cart.
Item 7: Unidentified assorted itemsAdd to your cart.
Box 87Add to your cart.
Item 1: Wooden toy car, circa 1977-1978Add to your cart.
Box 90Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Guyanese Government Special Investigation Report of the Physical Assets at the Jonestown Settlement (1 of 2), ca 1979Add to your cart.

Link to the .pdf version of this 514 page report - physical copy within folders 1 and 2

“There have been numerous accounts … about Government’s condoning of the establishment of a ‘State within a State.’ It was because of those rumours, and of a desire to bare the facts about exactly what were found at the Settlement, that the Party and Government decided to conduct a special investigation into the nature and quantity of all types and categories of physical assets at the Jonestown Settlement at the time of the tragedy. This Report sought to be as factual as it was possible, with as much detail as acquired. Care was taken to avoid discussion on issues and of what happened at Jonestown. That was not the purpose of the investigation.” Page 1 - Foreward to the Report

Folder 2: Guyanese Government Special Investigation Report of the Physical Assets at the Jonestown Settlement (2 of 2), ca 1979Add to your cart.

Link to the .pdf version of this 514 page report - physical copy within folders 1 and 2

“There have been numerous accounts … about Government’s condoning of the establishment of a ‘State within a State.’ It was because of those rumours, and of a desire to bare the facts about exactly what were found at the Settlement, that the Party and Government decided to conduct a special investigation into the nature and quantity of all types and categories of physical assets at the Jonestown Settlement at the time of the tragedy. This Report sought to be as factual as it was possible, with as much detail as acquired. Care was taken to avoid discussion on issues and of what happened at Jonestown. That was not the purpose of the investigation.” Page 1 - Foreward to the Report


Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Peoples Temple Christian Church, 1972-2015],
[Series 2: Audiovisual Materials, 1957-2019],
[Series 3: Investigation Files, 1977-2012],
[Series 4: Jonestown Institute Files, 1998-2013],
[Series 5: Publications, 1942-2017],
[Series 6: Original Works of Art, 1974-1991],
[All]


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