It is no exaggeration to say that members of Peoples Temple were once in possession of hundreds of thousands of photographs, and many thousands more were generated by the Temple organization itself.
A majority of these photos are gone forever. Many were lost in Jonestown, and many others disappeared from the Temple’s stateside offices in the weeks following the tragedy of November 1978. Even earlier than that, though, there are stories of Temple members being required to relinquish their photos albums –either by turning them over to non-Temple family members, or, in those cases where an entire family joined, destroying the photos –as they pledged allegiance to their new Temple family.
Nevertheless, thousands of the photos still survived.
- Indianapolis, Redwood Valley (including the Ranch), San Francisco and Los Angeles
- Jonestown in 1974-76, 1977, and 1978;
- Individual Temple members
This site is managed and updated by Laura Johnston Kohl. She invites any and all additional photos you might have to this growing collection. She also asks anyone who can identify the unnamed people in these and other photographs on this site to contact her.
California Historical Society Photos
Many photos have found their way into numerous collections at the California Historical Society. Some of these have been digitized, but many have not. In addition, CHS has uploaded ten videos from Jonestown onto its site.
Please note: All photos in the CHS collections are protected by copyright restrictions. Please contact CHS for permission to use any CHS photos you find on this or any other page of this website.
CHS houses the largest numbers of Peoples Temple documents –including photos –in the world, and is actively soliciting collections and albums of photographs. Contact CHS if you are interested in making a donation of Temple materials.
Photos Recovered by the FBI
Many photographs were recovered by the FBI following the deaths in Jonestown. A sampling of the photographs appear here. Others appear in the Flickr collection above. Many of the photos, however, have not yet been released in a reproducible format from the FBI, an issue which is still the subject of litigation.
Several smaller collections have been gathered by this website. They include:
- Photos taken by members of the Moore family during two trips to Guyana, in May 1978 and May 1979.
- Photographs from the Peoples Temple brochure A Feeling of Freedom, which is among the Jonestown publications on this site’s primary resource page.
- Individual portraits of Temple members.
- Miscellaneous Photos