New Jonestown Research Section Goes Online

by Don Beck

Much of the information about Jonestown and Peoples Temple on this website is primary source material, gathered from records of the Temple itself and government investigations before and after the deaths of 18 November 1978.

The materials released by the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act in 2000 include almost 50,000 pages of documents on three CDs from the agency’s investigation. While the files are all numbered, they were only tentatively organized, and there is no comprehensive index. Most of these materials were gathered hurriedly with no clear goal beyond chronicling what had happened on November 18, 1978, finding who had killed Ryan and preventing any further bloodshed. Now, a closer examination reveals more information that records much of what was happening in daily life there.

The Jonestown Research section presents original research that has come out of the primary source documents and the FBI’s records. Some sections are still in preparation. For the most part, this section will include compilations and analyses which will help researchers in seeing a more complete picture of the Temple as an organization and Jonestown as a community. The purpose of such research is to give both a context and a coherence to other records found on the site.

We are open to suggestions for future research projects. We welcome feedback, corrections, questions and observations from all.

[ Jonestown Research Image ]

Maps
This includes a map showing Jonestown’s location in Guyana and nearby towns; a composite map of the central parts of Jonestown based on a map drawn in 1977 and input from survivors’ statements; a preliminary plan for the cluster of the 48 cottages; and some hand-drawn maps of the central section.

Demographics
This is an article that summarizes various statistics about age, race, occupation, and more in tables, graphs and maps about Temple members.

Addresses in US
This is a list of Temple members arranged by the address associated with their passport application. This could give some insights into some members’ communal residences stateside in Redwood Valley-Ukiah; San Francisco-Bay Area and other towns in California.

Timelines (in preparation)
When completed, this section will list events and activities relating to the Temple sorted by date.

Censuses
Lists of members are being assembled to present searchable tables and lists on individual members’ entry into Guyana; a Master Jonestown census (approx. June 1978); peoples’ residences; married couples; family groups; children born in Jonestown; social security information; planning commission members; and Jonestown’s security structure.

The Opposition (in preparation)
This will list the members of Concerned Relatives and other family members in the US who were thought to be hostile to the Temple.

Jonestown Organization (in preparation)
This section will document how Jonestown ran: jobs, activities, support. This gives a better idea of the variety and extent of activities to build and support the daily needs of a community of a thousand persons. It includes the structure of activities and peoples’ jobs, letting the reader see who worked where and what specific activities each person had chosen or were assigned to.

Names & Aliases (in preparation)
Some persons were known by several names. This section lists names and aka (also-known-as) names to help readers locate members who were in Guyana.

Edith Roller Journals
Temple member Edith Roller kept a daily journal of her experiences that included her temple activities. Though some were typed, most of her recovered journals were handwritten notes—waiting her transcription to a final typed form. The 1978 journals have been transcribed from her notes and are presented here: January to June and August—July and September to November are missing. Support materials include: a printable map of Jonestown; a searchable index to people mentioned by dates; menus of daily meals that she listed; waking and sleeping times. Her descriptions and observations of life in general as well as “white nights” specifically, give insights otherwise not available.

(Don Beck is a former member of Peoples Temple. His complete collection of writings for the jonestown report may be found here. He may be reached at donbeck@cox.net.)

Originally posted on July 25th, 2013.

Last modified on March 8th, 2014.
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