Naming the Jonestown dead

More than twenty years after their deaths in Jonestown, many of the people have finally been named.

A list of the Jonestown dead compiled in the last year includes 870 people, including approximately 220 people who were not on any previous lists. The list, assembled from Guyanese immigration forms and Peoples Temple documents, as well as U.S. government documents, appears here.

The official list of Jonestown dead, compiled by the U.S. State Department and released in December 1978, had approximately 650 names. The House Foreign Affairs Committee issued a supplemental list five months later in its report on the assassination of Congressman Leo Ryan, but there were few additional names on it. The gap of 250 between the named people and the number of bodies removed from Jonestown emerged due to the limited, official sources which government agencies used to develop the list. Relying solely on State Department passport records and Social Security beneficiary information, the agencies ignored another resource: Peoples Temple records which were scattered across Jonestown following the deaths in November 1978.

An analysis of those records, which were released to the editors of this report under the Freedom of Information Act, indicates that Peoples Temple conducted two censuses during the summer of 1978. One lists Jonestown residents by name; a second lists them by the cabins and cottages in which they lived. A majority of names listed on Temple records — but not included on the official death list — were those of children.

We recognize that the list is still incomplete — there are approximately 45 names still missing, and some of those on the list may be in error — and we appreciate any assistance in correcting the omissions, mistakes and inaccuracies which we have made.