Jim Jones letters to Guyana government officials, 1977

The FBI’s organization of its FOIA files on Peoples Temple and Jonestown includes one section (RYMUR 89-4286-BB-17) that contains documents specifically related to Jim Jones, ranging from college transcripts, teaching certificates and ministerial ordinations to transcripts of interviews with him on California radio and television stations.

About a third of the section comprises letters which end with room for Jones’ signature. All of these letters were addressed to top leaders in the Guyana government, almost all to the Temple’s most important political patron, Deputy Prime Minister Ptolemy Reid. They are dated in a seven-month period between May and December 1977.

It is unlikely that Jones wrote many of these letters himself. That task probably fell to Paula Adams at the Temple’s headquarters in Georgetown, Guyana, as evidenced by her name on several proposed P.S. remarks, as well as the notation on others that she was the typist (e.g., “JJ/pa”).

With that said, it is also certain that Jones participated in the letter-writing process – including dictation of some of the letters’ contents – and that none were mailed without his authorization. Much of the language reflects mirrors his remarks in Jonestown meetings, and several of the letters include words unique to him (e.g., “chap” as a synonym for “fellow” or “guy”).

Two sections of letters follow. The first consists of 16 letters which are either dated or which have a specific reference to a specific event, such as Charles Garry’s trip to Jonestown in late October 1977. These letters have been arranged in chronological order. Six undated letters comprise the second section, appearing in their order on the FBI’s pdf.

The full citation for each of these pages begins with the section designation of “RYMUR 89-4286-BB-17-“.

Page Date Recipient
zzz 5/10/77 Deputy Prime Minister Ptolemy Reid
eee 7/18/77 Ptolemy Reid
vvv 7/21/77 Ptolemy Reid
ttt 7/21/77 Ptolemy Reid
uuu 7/26/77 Ptolemy Reid
hh 9/26/77 Prime Minister Forbes Burnham
ww 9/19/77 Ptolemy Reid
gg 10/9/77 Ptolemy Reid
ee 10/15/77 Ptolemy Reid
ff 10/19/77 Forbes Burnham
bbb 10/26/77 Ptolemy Reid
kkk early 11/77 Ptolemy Reid
jj 11/15/77 Ptolemy Reid, Forbes Burnham, Foreign Minister Fred Wills, Home Affairs Minister Vibert Mingo
ss 11/29/77 Ptolemy Reid, Forbes Burnham, Fred Wills, Vibert Mingo
rr 12/9/77 Ptolemy Reid
bbbb late 11/77 Ptolemy Reid
ii Undated Forbes Burnham
pp Undated Ptolemy Reid
qq Undated Ptolemy Reid

undated Fred Wills, Ptolemy Reid
mmm Undated Ptolemy Reid
ppp, aaaa

Undated Ptolemy Reid, Vibert Mingo