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Peoples Temple Records
MS 3800  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
Consists of materials collected by court receiver Robert H. Fabian in his efforts to identify and locate Peoples Temple assets and settle the more than 750 claims that arose from the events of November 18, 1978, when Congressman Leo Ryan, three journalists, and 914 Peoples Temple members died by murder or suicide in Port Kaituma, Jonestown, and Georgetown, Guyana. The collection includes manuscripts, realia, photographs, ephemera, legal documents, court depositions, financial documents, newspaper and magazine articles, and research materials. The first eight series comprise records removed by Fabian from the Peoples Temple offices on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco in the early days of the receivership. The bulk of these records document Peoples Temple operations in California and Guyana between 1965 and 1978, with some materials from the years before 1965, when the church was located in Indiana. The records reflect the church's involvement in all aspects of its membership, including maintenance of housing, medical, car and life insurance; real estate holdings and transfers; divorce, adoption, and custody cases; documents related to various corporations run by Peoples Temple; and materials generated in the procurement and settlement of Peoples Temple Agricultural Mission in Guyana, known as Jonestown. Series 9, Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, and series 10, Federal Bureau of Investigation, include records obtained by the receiver from these agencies to aid in his investigation. Series 11, Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ v. Attorney General of California, and series 12, United States v. Peoples Temple, include documents generated from the receiver's office during operations to dissolve Peoples Temple. The materials generated by the reciever date from February 1979 to March 1984, though many files contain earlier materials used as supporting evidence for claims.
Background
Peoples Temple began as a church founded by Jim and Marceline Jones and a small group of parishioners in Indianapolis in 1955. As pastor, Jim Jones preached to a racially-integrated congregation during Pentecostal-based services that included healings and sermons on integration and class conflicts. Peoples Temple conducted food drives; opened a "free restaurant" that served thousands of meals to the city's poor in the early 1960s; operated nursing homes; and hosted weekly television and radio programs featuring their integrated choir. The church became well known in the Indianapolis press for the members' integration activities and for their assertions of their pastor's gifts as a healer. The church became affiliated with the Disciples of Christ denomination in 1960.After November 18, 1978, it was necessary to begin the process of winding-up the financial affairs of Peoples Temple. Generally, the legal procedure to dissolve a charitable organization requires the board members of the organization to initiate a lawsuit naming the State Attorney General as respondent. The surviving board members of Peoples Temple filed the original petition for the case Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ v. the Attorney General of California through the Temple's attorney Charles Garry. On January 26, 1979 Superior Court Judge Ira Brown filed a minute order to appoint Robert H. Fabian as receiver, an action that followed a series of rulings by Brown to freeze the remaining assets of Peoples Temple and place them under court supervision.
Extent
Extent: 145 linear feet
Restrictions
CHS is the lawful owner of Peoples Temple documents and photographs, by orders of the California Superior Court and of the Guyana High Court. CHS is not aware of any other copyrights or other rights associated with this material. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with any person intending to use an item.
Availability
All researchers must sign the Access Agreement form, confirming that they have read and understood the restrictions outlined in the document Restricted Materials in the Peoples Temple Records, MS 3800. This document, and the Access Agreement form, are available at the reference desk or can be sent electronically.