Instructions for October 1978

Throughout the final year of Jonestown’s existence, Jim Jones often issued instructions to the community, sometimes over the public address system, sometimes in written statements (most of which were prepared by a lieutenant or secretary). Especially towards the end, the instructions revealed as much about his own mental faculties as they did about the very real problems facing the project.

This page includes two sets of instructions from consecutive days in mid-October 1978.

The first set, from October 16, 1978, is rough enough that we have included two versions of it, both in its original form and as an edited piece. In the original version, the note appears as it was written, with all formatting and markings – including paragraphs, punctuation, spellings, cross-outs and underlining – left intact. The edited version corrects the spelling and punctuation errors, with the formatting, cross-outs and underlining left intact. It should be pointed out that many of the underlined portions were done manually after the typing. The only change from the original note made to both the unedited and edited versions is that the original was in capital letters.

Although the note extends over nine pages of single-space type, some of it was typed twice, with differing amounts of underlining. There is also at least one page missing. If there are two versions of one page, we opted for the clearer version. The only exception is the end of the note, for which we ran both pages, to demonstrate the differences.

The instructions for October 17 has errors in spelling and typing similar to those of the previous day’s, but they are few enough that the corrections are noted in the text.

Most of the words from these notes also appear in an audiotape, tape Q 384 on this site. While there is no notation to indicate that these sets of instructions were intended as a script for Jones to read, rather than as transcripts of a just-recorded tape to create a permanent record, the fact that portions are underlined suggests that Jones wanted to highlight those sections in his speaking, and hence typed the document ahead of time to read to the Jonestown community.

There is also no proof Jim Jones typed the notes himself, rather than dictated them. The roughness of one draft does not by itself argue one way or the other: Jones could have been a poor typist, or the stenographer might have been typing as fast as he/she could to keep up.

For a detailed summary of the content of the audiotape – and this note upon which it was based – please go to the Tape Summary.

Instructions for October 1978, California Historical Society, Moore Family Papers, MS 3802
Instructions for 16 October 1978 (original)
Instructions for 16 October 1978 (edited)
Instructions for 17 October 1978