The following descriptions of the Margaret Singer Tapes were prepared by the Special Collections & University Archives Repository of San Diego State University.
Tape 1: This tape is a compilation of various news broadcasts about Peoples Temple activities in San Francisco, Ukiah, and Guyana. Reports highlight Concerned Relatives activities on April 11th and May 10th, 1978, and include interviews with members of the Concerned Relatives.
Tape 2: In a single news broadcast, a reporter provides information about Peoples Temple from the perspective of the Concerned Relatives. Included are an interview with Steven Katsaris of the Concerned Relatives, and mention of the Ukiah reporter Kathy Hunter, a Peoples Temple supporter who recently visited Guyana.
Tape 3: Side A: Discussion of how a patient would be affected by change in climate. Near the end of the recording is a conversation about a new coat. From July 1, 1979. Side B: Casual conversation between Dawn and Flo. Among other cryptic conversations, there is discussion regarding various doctors and about the damages left by a recent storm.
Tape 4: Side A: Discussion regarding Charlotte, whether or not she is getting a new coat, and from whom it may come. Side B: Discussion is focused on something that Dennis, Blanche, Jerry, and Bedford did in the past, as well as a time when Dennis forgot to give Frederick something. Near the end of the tape, the conversation moves to Neal’s medical condition.
Tape 5: Side A: Multiple women talk about helping Pete complete some administrative work. There is discussion of childcare and of a child in need of an operation, as well as forty people who need appointments. Near the end of the recording, there is conversation on Charlotte’s interactions with her science teacher. Side B: Blanche contacted Cliff, who was where Monty was, in order to pass a message to Charlotte in Cleveland. Much of the discussion is spent clarifying this sequence of events, but other topics include someone’s moodiness, faculty evaluations, and a tragedy in New York.
Tape 6: Side A: Discussion begins with some issues regarding Doctor Bedford’s assistants. Two conversations occur between family members. Some information is provided about supplies. Side B: Discussion regarding Gloria’s upcoming surgery, and how another person’s decision-making capabilities regarding said surgery may be affected by his own health. Conversation then moves to someone named Ida and the outcome of a recent chess game.
Tape 7: Side A: Most of this recording is from July 3rd, 1978. There is discussion about Penny taking care of Chet’s books, someone’s resting pulse in the 90s, the importance of certain medical records, a gas can explosion, and other topics. Side B: Conversation is primarily about Alexandria, Doctor DeWitt, and Doctor Rabb, although movies, temperatures, and an injury are also discussed.
Tape 8: Side A: Many subjects discussed, including but not limited to: Jenny helping Nathan with something, a letter to Doctor Kelly, Gloria bringing nose rings for children, and a blood analysis test. Side B is blank.
Tape 9: Side A: Largely focused on various events, including Marty’s plans and plans to clean the house in preparation of an upcoming celebration. Later, the topic of conversation shifts to Mrs. Gomez. Side B: Main discussion is on Milton and Jesse, but most of this recording is unintelligible.
Side 10: Side A: A radio operator in San Francisco facilitates communication between 8R1 (Jonestown?) and 8R3 (Georgetown?). Communication reveals that Hansen was talking with Milton, Darrel should register Milton with his boss, and that there is a conspiracy with calls, among other things. Side B: The most discernible parts of this recording concern someone talking to Orlando, Anthony being opinionated, Clarence’s responsibilities, and Leo taking a position.
Tape 11: Side A: Discussion is focused on the number of children an orphanage can hold. It is determined that Bedford can care for one hundred children and his assistants can care for seventy-five, but that they do not have the capacity to care for one hundred eighty-six in total. Side B: Topics of conversation include Tony selling fuel, the contents of a phone call from April, and a chartered plane.
Tape 12: Side A: Discussion centers on an unhappy man who suggested people who could help with Sally’s situation. There is concern over who is telling the truth. Other topics touched on include supplies, Pete’s reaction to Jerry helping Chet, and the same orphanage referenced in Tape 11, Side A. Side B: Discussion is initially focused on the orphanage, but also covers supplies and other unintelligible topics.
Tape 13: Side A: This recording begins on July 7th, 1978, and shifts to July 8th at seventeen minutes. Topics of conversation include how the person traveling to Georgetown will fare on Sunday, where Martha has been, and whether or not Hansen will call back. Side B: Discussion is focused on Doctor Chase, who recently closed his office and may join Doctor Raymond. The speakers also discuss the sale of grandmother Flora’s home.
Tape 14: Side A: This recording begins on July 8th, 1978, and shifts to July 9th at forty-seven minutes. Hattie would like to know who Herbert married. There is discussion of Grady’s sister, a newborn baby, and Joyce working on engines. One speaker asks if it would be a problem to have Reverend Thomas over to dinner to “break the news” about a project. Side B: Speakers discuss Reverend Michael, Sarah’s friend Misty, people visiting, the sale of a home, and news that Reverend Thomas accepted the offer.
Tape 15: Side A: Conversation mainly regarding medical and health issues. A doctor did an improper procedure on a biopsy. Willie and Don’s wife had appointments with Doctor Kennedy. Christina planned to have a medical study done. Elizabeth was waiting for Willie before doing something. A dinner with Gail’s friends is planned for July 20th. Doctor Iverson is to invite a friend with lung cancer. Misty got everything done except for Rex’s midterm paper. Other names mentioned throughout the recording are Phillippe, Barry, Sam, and Russell. Also a brief discussion regarding supplies. Side B: Topics of conversation include supplies, a flight to Hawaii, route options, and the orphanage.
Tape 16: Side A: Discussion centers on supplies, receipts, a letter from Sam, and various people’s travel plans. C. Anderson’s “relatives do not want her to go.” LCB has an interest in something “back down South.” IB is not coming and did not give a reason. Side B: The speaker reads a list of information about individuals identified by their initials. Doctors Bedford and Michaels are mentioned. Sides A and B of this tape are the only ones in the collection to use initials rather than coded names.
Tape 17: Side A: Discussion of which supplies have been received or are needed. The speakers discuss schedules and appointment times. There is a problem with Doctor Bedford due to miscommunication with Mr. Hansen. Doctor Iverson has a low opinion of Hansen and will not call him. One of the speakers is Mildred. Side B: Conversation about appointments with an unspecified doctor. Focus shifts to Mrs. Lindsey, who doesn’t know anything about Dennis. Three of the speakers are Mildred, Martha, and James.
Tape 18: Side A: Conversation is focused on Prescott, who recently made Anthony feel uncomfortable while visiting Gertrude with Milton. Some discussion provides information on Mrs. Wilson and some babies. Side B: Some of this tape was recorded on July 16th, 1978. There is confusion surrounding a letter that may have been written by Doctor Chase. Speakers also talk about a personal library, movie equipment, and watching movies.
Tape 19: Side A: Much conversation revolves around the pitfalls of Catholicism and Christina’s experiences with the religion. Discussion shifts to Edmund’s health. Side B: Speakers discuss supplies, and someone begins transmitting a text that passionately details feelings regarding a McCarthyism conspiracy. There is more conversation about Christina’s religious beliefs and Catholicism in general.
Tape 20: Side A: Phone conversation regarding bills between Jeannie Mills (also known as Deanna Mertle) and an unidentified woman. At 5:25, a new phone conversation begins between Jeannie and Joan. They discuss bills, the Human Freedom Center, and conflict with Lowell Streiker. Side B: Jeannie Mills converses on the phone with an unidentified man. Conversation focuses on the Human Freedom Center and conflict with Lowell Streiker.
Tape 21: Side A: Two women discuss Marylou’s artwork and a photo album having to do with Mrs. Cobb and Cheryl. Side B: Two women converse. The discernible parts of this tape cover topics such as a PA system, supplies, and insurance.
Tape 22: Side A: This recording is from August 26th, 1978. Only one woman speaks; at times she seems to be reading from a text. Her topics of discussion focus on the spiritual or supernatural, and includes theories on diamonds, frequencies, energies, and dimensions. Side B: A continuation of the previous recording, but also mentions Jim Jones. The speaker engages with a listener, who provides commentary.
Tape 23: Side A: Compilation of news broadcasts regarding Jim Jones and Peoples Temple. Topics include: why Jones will not travel to the United States, children, forced signatures/falsified documents, and Tim Stoen. Side B: Various news broadcasts. Coverage includes property loss and abuses suffered, in addition to phone calls from listeners.
Tape 24: Side A: Conversation between a group of people regarding Peoples Temple, money, and communal living. Side B is blank.
Tape 25: Side A: Conversation focuses on Linda’s adoption and conflict between various adults, with a brief discussion of politics. Side B is blank.
Tape 26: Side A: Conversation is centered on the success of a reception and updates on various people. Side B: Discussion centers on supplies and clarifying recent conversations. Speakers talk about Cynthia and her boss, Jesse, as well as Vernon.
Tape 27: Side A: Discussion topics cover a recent shipment, a family’s travel plans, and updates on various individuals. There is brief mention of Lowell and “CR.” Side B: Topics of conversation include the planning of a celebration, updates on various individuals, and a report by Doctor Salazar that relates to “CR.” Around 37:00, a man begins describing nature in idyllic terms and contrasts it with urban centers.
Tape 28: Side A: Discussion topics span from Andrew’s health condition, Doctor Salazar’s analyses, Cynthia’s research, and input from Doctors Bedford and Iverson. Side B: Discussion begins with someone relaying Doctor Brian’s response to reports on Ellie and April. Some time is given to determining the distance between 8R3 and 8R1, at Doctor Brian’s request. A news story regarding the Stanford newspaper is also relayed.
Tape 29: Side A: Topics of conversation in this tape include lunches at the orphanage, Anthony’s relationship with a union, and a walk some people are supposed to take. There is some talk of supplies and an apology from Elizabeth to Jesse is relayed. Side B: This recording features phone conversations conducted over radio. Richard’s wife speaks with her son Marvin; she tells him to keep writing letters. Other speakers include Claire, Carol, Tim, and Preston. Conversation moves to updates on Doctors Hathaway and Cassidy, and someone’s wife’s health issues.
Tape 30: Side A: This short recording seems to briefly discuss a conflict between Conrad’s friend and Willie. Side B: Initial discussion recounts a situation concerning a woman, Doctor Cassidy, and Anthony. Conversation shifts to a discussion of other doctors and then Anthony’s friends’ play.
Tape 31: Side A: This recording includes a phone patch between Nida and Loretta and their parents. Following the phone patch discussion topics include supplies, tasks that need to be completed, and selecting machinery. Side B: Topics of conversation include an earthquake in Los Angeles, a graduation ceremony, and a letter from a friend of Marion.
Tape 32: Side A: The majority of discussion is spent clarifying things in written reports. Much of the recording is not discernible due to interference. Side B: This brief recording contains an attempt to clarify who a particular woman is in a photograph.
Tape 33: Side A: Topics of conversation include photograph requests, the need for a medical assistant, and one of Doctor Iverson’s patients with a heart condition. Side B: Conversation focuses on a letter to Doctor Chet from the medical review board concerning a child’s case.
Tape 35: Side A: One conversation between a man and Doctor Wall focuses on international travel. Others discuss the process of obtaining an invoice and someone’s medical records. Side B: Topics of conversation include heat therapy treatment for Laura, Jenny’s medical problem, and the closing of a university.
Tape 36: Side A: Discussion in the beginning of this recording reviews a list of people who wished to speak to William. There is also a three-way communication between San Francisco, 8R1, and 8R3; 8R3 particularly wanted to talk to Ann. Various updates are relayed, including that two women are out of the hospital. Side B: Speakers provide updates on various people and situations to one another. Particularly notable is the information that Mrs. Garcia is willing to make a statement that Doctor Bond and others want to talk to William.
Tape 37: Side A: Early discussion focuses on Agnes’ recent problems with Mr. Zigler. There are also conversations about supplies, a young couple and Richmond’s wife, Yvette’s apartment, and children. Side B: Much of this recording discusses the practices and opinions of Doctors Iverson, Austin, and Carl. Also addressed is the behavior of an unnamed child, someone’s travel plans to Miami, among other things in passing.
Tape 38: Side A: Discernible topics in this recording include Neal’s vacation, Jenny’s future in a medical program, humanitarian projects, and someone’s protracted disease. Side B: This recording is a continuation of the previous one, beginning with a discussion about an intensive care unit. Other medical cases and doctors are then addressed.
Tape 40: Side A: This recording features a news broadcast that provides historical background on Guyana before explaining the social climate that welcomed Jones and his church. The reporter attempts to describe the enigmatic community, and at one point states that “the farm is, in fact, an armed military camp.” Side B is blank.
Tape 41: Side A: Early conversation focuses on a conflict involving Willie. Later, there is a phone patch between a mother and daughter. Speakers then discuss obtaining signatures to modify something, and an incident when Edna felt she was being treated contemptuously. Side B: Discussion topics include Reverend Bedford’s health and party, DeWitt altering a house, Lola’s health issue, and Nathan’s school plans. At 19:45 a voiceover states, “Okay, this is beginning tape for June the seventeenth, 1978.”
Tape 42: Side A: Discussion topics include a big celebration on the upcoming weekend, photographs for Marvin, Thomas and Preston rotating a position, and Ruth’s behavior. Side B: Conversations are mostly of a personal nature, but also include discussion of Conrad’s family, items from a catalog, and children.
Tape 43: Side A is Blank. Side B: Discussion topics in this recording include William, Nora and Philip’s living situation, actress Suzanne Somers’ religious beliefs, and a “bratty” dog.
Tape 45: Side A: Initial discussion reviews Jack’s travel plans; he will be traveling during the first three weeks of August and cannot help with Cornelius. Later, a speaker relays that, according to “the rich man,” Ruth’s cousin said special arrangments were made for Ross. Also discussed are a controversy about notebooks being available and Doctor Bedford’s medical program. Side B: Communication in this recording is mostly comprised of relaying other peoples’ questions, particularly about Reverend Thomas and Ruth. There are also some updates on various people.
Tape 46: Side A: Discussion topics include Michelle’s reading habits, Doctor Bedford’s phone calls, physical therapy equipment, and Doctor Michaels’ clinic. Side B: Much conversation is given to the attendance rate of recent parties, though Mrs. Jenkins’ plans to enroll in summer school, Rudy’s conversation with Agnes, and other subjects are also discussed.
Tape 47: Side A: This recording is of Al Mills (also known as Elmer Mertle) speaking to a crowd about his experiences with Peoples Temple. Among other things, he discusses his wife, Jeannie Mills (also known as Deanna Mertle); the Death Tape; and Jim Jones’ healings. Side B: This recording is a continuation of the previous one.
Tape 48: Side A: This recording begins with the shifting of radio channels, but eventually settles on a station where callers phone in to talk to two men about abortion. Side B: This recording seems to have occurred in a kitchen, or some other room in a house. Not much is audible, but interaction with a young girl, Patty, is frequent. There is a period in which Patty and a woman discuss specific people. Names mentioned around 14:30 include Bryan Kravitz, Deanna Mertle, Elmer Mertle, Mary Lou Clancey.
Tape 50: Side A: Discussion topics include AJ’s friend, Doctor Iverson’s opinion on another doctor’s medical evaluation, and a need for Fred to talk with Jay. Side B: Initial conversation focuses on Doctor Iverson and one of his patients. Millie then briefly speaks with Doctor Marty. Also addressed is some resentment towards Edna, and a situation involving Tony, Joseph, and multiple doctors.
Tape 51: Side A: The beginning of this recording picks up where Tape 51B left off; the speakers talk about leaving Joseph’s church. The subsequent conversation includes information about Penny’s “old gentleman friend” and a letter from Doctor Bedford regarding finances. Side B: Significant discussion topics include a recent arraignment, adolescent recreation, and supply requests.
Tape 52: Side A: Much of this recording contains communication between San Francisco, 8R1 and 8R3. Concern is expressed towards maintaining Bertha’s “theological persuasion.” Side B: Early conversation is largely about Sally’s business acumen. Subjects discussed later include a report from someone’s husband regarding hotel alarms and updates on a situation with Mr. Riggs.
Tape 53: Side A: Much of this recording is not discernible, but there is some discussion of a situation with Nathan that Elizabeth and Tom were working on. Side B: Notable discussion topics include someone meeting Nathan at a country club, paintings going to the national art gallery, and Mr. Castro’s department’s complaint against Tony.
Tape 54: Side A: This recording of radio transmission includes an interlude from an external radio advising the Peoples Temple communicators that conducting church business over the radio violates FCC regulations. Side B: This recording contains two phone patches between family members; one is successful and the other is not.
Tape 56: Side A: This recording features radio operators in San Francisco moderating communication between 8R1 and 8R3. Though not much is discernible, some information regarding Allen is discussed. Side B is blank.
Tape 57: Side A: Conversation topics include Sally’s distorted perceptions, a troubled relationship with Everett, Irene’s father’s surgery, and Nathan’s new home, among other things. Side B: Notable discussion points include proof of Frances’ relationship with Bobby and someone’s reaction to a statement which involved Tony’s family.
Tape 59: Side A: Similar to tapes 11 and 12, this recording discusses the size of the orphanage. Other subjects mentioned include old information about Rex and a conflict with Edna. Side B is blank.