FOIA Documents Continue to be Added to Site

Throughout much of the previous decade, the efforts of this site to transcribe documents released under the Freedom of Information Act have focused on those generated by the FBI in the course of its investigation of the Jonestown tragedy, and by the State Department, beginning with its early contacts with Peoples Temple through its Georgetown Embassy in 1974, and continuing through the trials and eventual extradition of Larry Layton to the United States in 1981.

In more recent years, we have turned our attention to the records of Peoples Temple itself, especially those recovered from the Jonestown community in November 1978 and processed by the FBI in the spring of 1979. (Most Temple records from its California churches are maintained by the California Historical Society, although there is some overlap between the two collections of materials.)

Thousands of pages have been transcribed, but there are many more thousands remaining. As we complete various sections of the FBI organizational breakdown of these records, we note them on the What’s New page of the Alternative Considerations website.

The sections completed in the past 12 months include:

  • Section 44 and Section 45: These are among the 20 sections with the FBI designation of “Financial” records. These two folders consist of photocopies of checks and stubs for checks written by members of Peoples Temple in Guyana for its business transactions in Georgetown.
  • Section 57: While also listed as comprising Temple financial records, most of the materials in this section relate to Temple organizational documents, including Articles of Incorporation, By-Laws, and papers from its Guyana years, such as its land lease for Jonestown and the Articles of Association in that country.
  • Section 64: This is the fourth completed section of the five designated by the FBI as Temple legal records. More than a third of the 320-page section is devoted to guardianships of Temple members, including in the Jones family; another third concerns the Temple’s acquisition of the Albatross, one of its two boats in Guyana; and a smaller section catalogues modest financial gifts made by Temple members to the church. The remaining pages comprise affidavits and statements, mostly relating to the custody battle over John Victor Stoen.
  • Section 75 (C-7): Most of the documents in first half of this section are Jonestown administrative records from 1978, although there are also numerous organizational charts and rosters.
  • Section 75 (C-8): Designated as “Administrative Functions,” the second half of section 75 consists almost exclusively of notes of meetings held by the Jonestown Agricultural Commission and Analysts during the summer of 1978.
  • Section 89: Much of this section reflects its FBI designation of Weapons ­– with records of applications and permits for firearm possession in Guyana, as well as listings and correspondence regarding those weapons – but there are also related security memos and a summary of an Interpol investigation into allegations of currency and firearms trafficking into Jonestown.
  • Section 96: The State Department contacts contained in this folder include summaries of notes of meetings that Temple personnal had with U.S. Embassy officials in Georgetown, as well as related correspondence, both to diplomatic personnel and Members of Congress, mostly during the period leading up to the migration of Temple members to Guyana in 1977.
  • Section 103: The FBI description of the folder’s contacts as “Miscellaneous” is accurate. They range from press releases, to meeting notes, to transcripts of telephone conversations, to correspondence between Jonestown residents and their relatives in the US, to the ordination of Jim Jones into the Disciples of Christ. There are also two significant documents written by Jonestown leader Carolyn Layton on the future of the community, as well as a collection of responses of the Jonestown community to the defection of Deborah Layton in May 1978.
  • Section 110: With the exception of three or four reports by Debbie Touchette or Teri Buford, this sections consists of minutes of meetings, reports of telephone conversations, press releases, memos and notes written by Sharon Amos, the Temple leader in Georgetown listed on the section’s label.
  • Section 133: About a quarter of this 185-page section relates directly to the folder’s label of “Affidavits Re: Grace Stoen,” while much of the additional material pertains to tangential issues, such as the May 1978 visit to Guyana by reporter Kathy Hunter, statements about other Temple enemies, and testimonials about Jim Jones’ healing abilities and sexual prowess.
  • Section 138: This 382-page section comprises almost exclusively affidavits of all kinds, as Jonestown residents praise Jim Jones, chastise their relatives, enumerate the vices of their opponents, and continue their attack responding to the defection of Deborah Layton in May 1978.
  • Section 160: This short section consisting of the contents of a box of alphabetized index cards summarizes the physical assaults against Peoples Temple, from instances of arson against the Redwood Valley and San Francisco churches, attempted assassinations of Jim Jones and other Temple leaders, burglaries, and harassments.