Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue Jones Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: Labeled in part “10/13/78 News”
Date cues on tape: Jonestown portions of tape consistent with date. Segment of tape from undated Temple service prior to spring 1977.
Peoples Temple members
Ida Mae Clipps (speaks)
Nevada Harris (speaks)
Marceline Jones (speaks)
Exie (could be Exie Eleby)
Ann, Sandra, Donna and Cynthia, grandchildren of Nevada Harris
Beulah & Johnny, children of Exie
Henrietta Pleasant, mother of Ida Mae Clipps
Public figures/National and international names:
Dr. Sonnenfeld (phonetic), doctor to Nevada Harris
Forbes Burnham, Prime Minister of Guyana (by reference)
Carlos Andres Perez, President of Venezuela (by reference)
Mark Lane, Temple attorney
Jimmy Carter, U.S. President
Otto Kerner, former Illinois governor, head of National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders
Indira Gandhi, prime minister of India
King Hussein of Jordan
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Egypt’s acting foreign minister (by reference)
Elias Sarkis, President of Lebanon (by reference)
Hafez Al-Assad, President of Syria (by reference)
Olusegun Obasanjo, head of military government of Nigeria
Hans Apel, West Germany’s defense minister (by reference)
Juan Bosch, former president of the Dominican Republic (by reference)
Joaquin Balaguers, former president of the Dominican Republic
Felipo Diaz, activist in Dominican Republic
Antonio Guzmán Fernández, president of the Dominican Republic
Carlos Andres Perez, President of Venezuela
Karl Marx, German economist, father of communism
Vladimir Ilich Lenin, father of Russian Revolution, first leader of Soviet Union
Daniel Ellsberg, Defense Department worker who leaked Pentagon Papers
J. Paul Getty, American industrialist
Howard Hughes, American billionaire
George Meany, president of AFL-CIO
Temple members not in Jonestown:
Joe (likely Wilson, could be Beam)
Bible verses cited:
(Spoken by Marceline Jones) “For he shall endure until the end and the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”)
(This tape was transcribed by Katherine Hill. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)
This tape consists of numerous segments, but they seem to center around two dates: a meeting, a series of announcements and the news of the day around October 13, 1978; and a Temple service in Los Angeles of an unknown date. As was often the case with the tapes in this collection, the people of Jonestown used previously-recorded tape that they no longer considered important.
In the older tape – which picks up for a few minutes after the first recorded conversation in Jonestown, and which returns intermittently throughout in brief snatches – Marceline Jones leads a Temple service in Los Angeles. Following the path of her husband, Marceline discloses personal information about several parishioners to prove that she speaks with the authority and spirit of Jim Jones, and offers prayer cloths to prevent heart attacks and dangerous accidents. After revealing that one older woman owns a green pantsuit, Marceline warns the woman not to wear it again until after a certain date to preclude a tragedy that would otherwise occur. Marceline also joins an unknown man in singing the hymn “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” but they change the words of “God” and “Jesus” to “Father,” i.e., Jim Jones.
The balance of the tape was recorded in mid-October, 1978.
In Part 1, in a short conversation before a crowd of unknown size in Jonestown, Jim Jones confronts a young man who has apparently made a half-hearted attempt at suicide, and warns him about the generational consequences of such an act. “When you commit suicide, you’re in the worst kind of hell you ever were in…” he warns. “It don’t stop in no damn casket.”
Parts 3-5 consist of a series of announcements and warnings, most focusing on the problem caused by recent attempts to run away from Jonestown. Jones describes what awaits people who slip into the jungle – tigers, snakes, insects, and of course, the jungle itself – then adds that if they make it through to civilization, they are still not in the clear. The Jonestown leadership has made arrangements with the local police, the Guyana Defense Force, and even the U.S. Embassy to return anyone from Jonestown whom they find.
Jones is perplexed why anyone would want to return to the US – which he refers to as Babylon – but says he will grant passage to anyone who wishes to go home. The caveat is that they have to wait until everyone in the States who wishes to emigrate to Jonestown has arrived.
Jones also announces the events of the evening, which will consist of a review of the news, a Russian lesson, and a movie. It isn’t mandatory that the people watch Sounder, but he says he will ask questions about it in the future.
Part 6 takes up the entire second half of the tape. Jones begins by reading a long news analysis about the resurgence of racism in US education, as reflected in increasingly racially-segregated schools and growing disparities in funding between white and minority schools. The article then offers other proof of the “de facto apartheid” in the United States, including the substandard housing and rising crime in American ghettos. This leads into a discussion of labor and class struggle. The source of the article is unknown, but its rhetoric suggests that it came from a Soviet-bloc wire service or magazine, rather than from either Jones or his staff.
Afterwards, Jones reads the news of the day. Among the items:
• The “sellout” agreement at Camp David and reaction to it in the Arab world
• The crisis in Lebanon, including the destruction of Beirut
• The new government in the Dominican Republic follows through on amnesty laws
• Students take over a university in Ensenada, Mexico
• Students demand rights in Thailand
• Political prisoners go on hunger strikes in Paraguay
• The Nigerian military government honors its promise to return to civilian rule
• NATO war games kill 1300 civilians in Western Europe
At the end of the reading, Jones asks his followers to do their best, to work harder and become more productive, a request which has grown quite familiar by then. He reminds people of the suggestion box he has put out for ways to improve the community, but warns that it isn’t to be used for gossip or mouthing off about petty complaints or slights. That admonition doesn’t apply to more dangerous dissent, however. “If you hear something that is undermining, you should immediately bring that to my attention. If someone is overheard talking against the community rules or against the Office, that should be – and must be – reported immediately.”
As is the case with most of these newscasts, Jones includes periodic commentary and editorial asides. Some – especially those related to the lessons the item has for Jonestown, and those given in a conversational, rather than a newscaster’s tone – seem spontaneous and from Jones himself. After describing a military junta in Thailand, for example, Jones remarks that both fascists and capitalists fight among themselves, and adds, “That’s why I don’t see why everyone doesn’t know the reality of socialism, because only socialism teaches you concern for one another and to help one another and to care. You say, well, a lot of folks here don’t care. I’ve seen plenty that care. I see people share things with other people, share clothing, share food, lots of things.”
Other commentary may be in the copy itself, such as the frequent use of rhetoric about the “monopoly capitalism” and “fascist imperialism” of Western powers and the “avant garde” personified by the Soviet Union. The other observations – like the descriptions of American students as apathetic and unconcerned about their rights – are of unknown origin.
The specter of nuclear war is one which Jones himself raises twice near the end of the tape. The size of the NATO war games – described in his final news item – reflects the danger of imminent nuclear war. Then, as he signs off for the day, he reminds his people that they need to liberate everyone they can from the States because otherwise, “they’re doomed to nuclear annihilation,” since there’s no chance of survival in a country that will look “like a wasteland and a desert from East Coast to the West Coast.”
Date of transcription: 6/25/79
In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the assassination of U.S. Congressman LEO J. RYAN at Port Kaituma, Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978, a tape recording was obtained. This tape recording was located in Jonestown, Guyana, South America, and was turned over to U.S. Officials in Guyana and subsequently transported to the United States.
On June 6, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B100-40. This tape was found to contain the following:
JIM JONES reading news and announcements superimposed over MARCELINE JONES conducting a women’s rally.
Differences with FBI Summary:
Marceline Jones was leading a Temple service in the absence of her husband, Jim Jones, who was likely leading a service in another Temple location. Other than that, the summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted July 2011