Following the events of 18 November 1978, the FBI launched an investigation into the assassination of Rep. Leo Ryan and four others at the Port Kaituma airstrip, and the deaths of People Temple members in Jonestown and Georgetown, Guyana. Known as RYMUR – shorthand for “Ryan Murder” – the investigation generated more than 10,000 pages of memoranda, airtels, letters and teletypes before it concluded with the prosecution of Larry Layton.
In addition, the agency gathered approximately 35,000 pages of Peoples Temple documents, arranging them into a loose general format known as “The Guyana Index.” The organization of the materials is still keyed to this index, even if a more detailed index – and the institutional knowledge of the FBI employees who compiled it – is not available. As such, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act still follow the broad outlines of this index, and requests for specific items which are keyed to this inventory are more successful than general queries.
Documents in the Primary Source section of this website which come from the FBI’s collection of Temple documents follow the Guyana Index organizational system. The complete listing of the files in the Guyana Index, which were released to this website as a result of a lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act, may be found here).