Marlene Tarver’s Letters to the Ranch

One of the most cohesive groups to emigrate to Guyana from the United States was made up of the young men and women who had spent time on “the Ranch” outside of Redwood Valley in Northern California. While numerous adults participated in ranch activities, it was the Janaros – Richard and especially Claire – who looked after many of the kids.

The letters from Marlene Tarver to Claire Janaro report on the day-to-day activities of many of the ranch alumnae – almost to the exclusion of anyone else in Jonestown – both in school and on the farms. Most close with a request for additional supplies to be sent dowen on the next shipment, usually clothes and educational materials.

The letters, which extend for a period of almost a year, from November 1977 to October 1978, are uniformly optimistic and upbeat, perhaps in part because she knew negative letters would not survive Jonestown censors, but just as likely because they expressed Marlene’s genuine enthusiasm for their new home in Guyana.

The letters have been edited slightly for spelling and punctuation, and additional annotations for identification of names.

Letter of November 19, 1977
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Letter of December 27, 1977
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Letter of April 1, 1978
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Letter of May 6, 1978
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Letter of May 16, 1978
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Letter of May 21, 1978
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Letter of June 1, 1978
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Letter of July 9, 1978
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Letter of July 27, 1978
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Letter of August 30, 1978
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Letter of October 12, 1978
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Originally posted on February 17th, 2013.

Last modified on October 22nd, 2013.
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