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Photographs of Peoples Temple in the United States and Guyana, 1967-1978
PC 010  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Information for Researchers
  • System of Arrangement
  • Scope and Contents
  • Indexing Terms
  • Organizational History of Peoples Temple
  • Administrative Information

  • Title: Photographs of Peoples Temple in the United States and Guyana
    Date (inclusive): 1967-1978
    Collection Number: PC 010
    Extent: 8 albums (2.0 linear feet); 200 digital images
    Repository: California Historical Society
    678 Mission Street
    San Francisco, CA, 94105
    415-357-1848
    reference@calhist.org
    URL: http://www.californiahistoricalsociety.org/
    Physical Location: Collection is stored onsite.
    Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.
    Abstract: Consists of 1225 original slides, and 1131 photographic print reproductions created from those slides, of the members of the Peoples Temple in Redwood Valley, San Francisco, and Guyana from 1967-1978. Included are images of church services, portraits of Peoples Temple leader Rev. Jim Jones, recreational outings, bus trips, candid portraits of members, and images of members farming, preparing food, and pursuing various forms of entertainment. Includes photographs of the construction of buildings in Redwood Valley in 1968, traveling across country to Washington, D.C. in 1976, and the establishment of the Peoples Temple Agricultural Mission known as Jonestown in Guyana from 1974-1978.

    Information for Researchers

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    The California Historical Society (CHS) is providing access to these photos for educational and research purposes. Written permission is required for commercial use. CHS is the lawful owner of the 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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Photographs of Peoples Temple in the United States and Guyana, PC 010, California Historical Society.

    Related Collections

    Photographs from Peoples Temple Records, MSP 3800
    Photographs from Moore Family Papers, MSP 3802
    Photographs from John R. Hall Research Materials on Peoples Temple, MSP 3803
    Photographs from Ross E. Case Collection on Peoples Temple, MSP 4062
    Photographs from Margaret T. Singer Materials on Peoples Temple, MSP 4123
    Photographs from Peoples Temple Miscellany Collection, MSP 4126

    Accruals

    Additions are not expected. Similar materials created by the membership of Peoples Temple have been added to MSP 3800, Photographs from Peoples Temple Records.

    Additional Notes on Collection

    Dates of images reflect processing dates printed on slide mounts, not the date image was taken. When possible, actual dates and other identifying information supplied by survivors who assisted in the identification of the photographs are provided on labels accompanying photographic prints.

    Alternative Form Available

    Digital reproductions of 200 items are available online.

    System of Arrangement

    Albums 1-5 contain photographic prints from the original slides, housed in Albums 6-8. Images are arranged as received, in general by topic, starting with images in Redwood Valley, and bus trips taken during that period, through the period of Peoples Temple in San Francisco, and ending with the construction and settlement of Jonestown, Guyana.

    Scope and Contents

    Consists of 1225 original slides, and 1131 photographic print reproductions created from those slides, of the members of the Peoples Temple in Redwood Valley, San Francisco, and Guyana from 1967-1978. Included are images of church services, portraits of Peoples Temple leader Rev. Jim Jones, recreational outings, bus trips, candid portraits of members, and images of members farming, preparing food, and pursuing various forms of entertainment. Includes photographs of the construction of buildings in Redwood Valley in 1968, traveling across country to Washington, D.C. in 1976, and the establishment of the Peoples Temple Agricultural Mission known as Jonestown in Guyana from 1974-1978. Also includes scenic images of landscape, vegetation and wildlife in Guyana, images of Georgetown, and images of Guyanese public officials visiting Jonestown. All images predate the deaths in Jonestown, Guyana in November 1978. Also included are 94 slides of urban and landscape images of Grenada. Photographers include members Eugene Chaikin, Jim Randolph, Tim Clancey, Mike Rozynko, Bob Houston, Don Jackson and other unidentified Peoples Temple members.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Jones, Jim, 1931-1978--Portraits.
    Peoples Temple Agricultural Mission--Pictorial works.
    Peoples Temple--Pictorial works.
    Redwood Valley (Calif.)--Pictorial works.
    Jonestown (Guyana)--Pictorial works.
    Georgetown (Guyana)--Pictorial works.
    Grenada--Pictorial works.
    Photographic prints.
    Color slides.

    Organizational History of Peoples Temple

    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 communism, peace movements, 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.
    In the summer of 1965, the Jones family and approximately one hundred Peoples Temple members relocated to Redwood Valley, a rural community eight miles north of Ukiah in Mendocino County. Peoples Temple conducted their church services and meetings in rented and borrowed spaces until they finished building their own church with a swimming pool, an animal shelter, gardens, and a community kitchen in 1969. By this time, the church's membership had grown to three hundred.
    In 1970, Jim Jones began to preach in cities throughout California. Recruiting drives in African American communities in San Francisco and Los Angeles increased Peoples Temple membership to over twenty-five hundred by 1973. Some members lived in communal housing and worked full time for Peoples Temple. Others contributed significant portions of their income and property to the church. The church's operations included real estate management; home care facilities for seniors and youths; publishing, bookkeeping services; mail order; and maintenance of a fleet of buses to transport members to services throughout the state and across the country. Tens of thousands of people, including politicians and members of other congregations, attended Peoples Temple services between 1970 and 1977.
    Peoples Temple voted to establish an agricultural and rural development mission in Guyana, South America in the fall of 1973. Over the next two years, members traveled to Guyana to scout a location for the mission; establish a residence in Georgetown, the capital of Guyana; clear the land; and begin construction at the site. The building plans included farm buildings, a large communal kitchen, medical facilities, schools, dormitory style housing, small cabins, and a day care center that were all constructed around a large open-air pavilion.
    By 1976, Peoples Temple had moved its headquarters from Redwood Valley to San Francisco and had become involved in citywide electoral politics. They published their own newspaper, Peoples Forum; staged rallies and events for local and national political figures; and were vocal in their support of causes such as freedom of the press, affirmative action, and gay rights. In the fall of 1976, recently elected Mayor George Moscone appointed Jim Jones to the San Francisco Housing Authority. Jones served as its chairman until he left for Guyana the following year.
    In 1977, former members and relatives had organized a group called the Concerned Relatives and Citizens Committee to protest Jones's treatment of church members. Child custody issues and living conditions in the Guyana mission, which became known as Jonestown, were at the center of the conflict between Peoples Temple and the Concerned Relatives. Both sides filed lawsuits, sought public support through the media, and appealed to government officials for protection. Media coverage of Peoples Temple practices and political activities led the government to investigate the church's financial and social welfare programs. Peoples Temple began to close many of their businesses, sell their properties, and relocate hundreds of their members to Guyana.
    In response to issues raised by the media and former members, California Congressman Leo Ryan organized a trip to Jonestown in November 1978. By this time, more than a thousand Peoples Temple members were living in Guyana. His staff, Concerned Relatives, Embassy officials, and journalists accompanied Ryan on an overnight visit to Jonestown. During their visit, seventeen Jonestown residents decided to return to the United States with Ryan. As the group boarded two small airplanes at a remote jungle airstrip, Peoples Temple members drove up on tractors and shot at them. They killed Ryan, three journalists, and a Peoples Temple member. That same day, 18 November 1978, more than nine hundred people died from cyanide poisoning in Jonestown and four other members died in Georgetown.
    More than eighty Peoples Temple members survived the deaths in Guyana: people who lived through the airstrip shootings; Jonestown residents who left the community before and during the poisonings; and members who were in Georgetown and on boats. Hundreds of Peoples Temple members had remained in the U.S, many of them in California.
    Immediately after the deaths, Peoples Temple members in San Francisco provided records to the government to identify the dead and immediately began the process of dissolving the organization. The assets of Peoples Temple were frozen and placed under court supervision. The court oversaw the burial of hundreds of unclaimed and unidentified bodies from Jonestown and dealt with $1.8 billion in claims that were filed against the Peoples Temple estate. Claims were filed by the Guyana and U.S. governments; people injured at the airstrip; relatives of the deceased; and people who had turned over property to Peoples Temple. In 1979 and 1980, Congress held hearings on the death of Congressman Ryan and on cult phenomenon in the U.S. By 1983, the court recovered and disbursed over $13 million in assets, which it had recovered from cash found in the U.S. and Guyana; in international accounts in Panama, Caracas, and Grenada and other countries; and from the sale of Peoples Temple properties. In June 1983, the court approved the transfer of the records of Peoples Temple to the California Historical Society.

    Administrative Information

    Processing Information

    Processed by Denice Stephenson in 2006.

    Acquisition Information

    Photographs of Peoples Temple in the U.S. and Guyana were donated to the California Historical Society by Denice Stephenson in September 2006.

    Custodial History

    Original slides were received by Denice Stephenson from D. Walder, whose late husband, Richard Guillyot, had been researching a book about children in Peoples Temple in the 1980s. It is believed that the slides were borrowed by Guillyot from Charles Garry, attorney for Peoples Temple from 1977-1978, who held property of Peoples Temple in his offices. Stephenson then scanned the slides to produce the digital reproductions in Albums 1-5.