Name Index, Remembrances Highlight Website Changes

As in previous years, the Alternative Considerations website has expanded to add new features and develop existing ones within the last twelve months. What is most exciting and heartening about this year, though, is that many of these improvements have been made by people other than the website managers and researchers. We are truly grateful for these contributions.

Among the changes in the last year:

  • The Jonestown tapes which have been transcribed and summarized on the website now have a name index. Created by Special Collections at San Diego State University, the index allows anyone to determine which transcripts include the names – and sometimes even the voices – of different Peoples Temple members and Jonestown residents. For a story about the SDSU Collection and the new index, go here. To access the index itself, click here. (Special thanks to Jossie Clark, Angelique Korobi and Mark Fein.)
  • Completing a project that began last year, the website now includes biographical data and photographs for most of the people who died in Jonestown. It also allows relatives and friends of the Jonestown dead to leave remembrances of their loved ones. Through this feature, the complexity of the Jonestown community continues to grow and be understood. The remembrances also create a springboard for longer biographical accounts, examples of which are included in this edition of the jonestown report. For a story about how to leave a remembrance, go here. To find a name on the death list, go to this page. We thank everyone who has left a remembrance on this site, and especially those who have contributed longer biographical pieces.
  • There were more audiotapes than those which the FBI recovered in Jonestown and Georgetown following the deaths of 18 November. At least one other government agency – the Federal Communications Commission – collected tapes of Temple ham radio transmissions between Guyana and the United States. We have therefore linked to a site created by Joey Dieckman, who has spent several years investigating the FCC’s relationship with Peoples Temple, and extend a special thanks to Joey for creating this resource. (Go here to read more about the new FCC link.) Beyond those, we have learned of tapes held by private individuals and institutions which would be of interest to historical researchers, and will begin to add these tapes in coming months.
  • The site has added a link for news developments related to Peoples Temple and Jonestown that occur between publications of the jonestown report. The link is here; news from this past year may be found here in the jonestown report.
  • The site has several new FAQs on questions about the number of people who died in Guyana on 18 November (here), the discrepancies in the body count (here), and whether the Temple committed welfare fraud (here). We are glad to accept other questions people have, and will do our best to research them. Write us anytime.
  • The Primary Sources page has a number of additions in the last year, including:
    • Text and pdf versions of the premier issue of The Living Word magazine published by Peoples Temple in 1972;
    • Text and pdf versions of the August 1, 1977 New West magazine article that help to precipitate the mass migration to Guyana (special thanks to writers Marshall Kilduff and Phil Tracy for permission to republish this work);
    • The notes of John and Barbara Moore following their return from a visit to Jonestown in May 1978; and
    • A brief segment of news footage of the shootings at the Port Kaituma airstrip on November 18.
  • Finally, we continue to upload more transcripts and summaries of Peoples Temple audiotapes here. The recent additions are indicated in both the “Tapes” and “Summaries” listings.

We recognize that we would not have made the progress of the last year without the assistance of numerous people. In addition to the people listed above, we would like to thank Liz Parker for her work in maintaining our site; Don Beck, Michael Bellefountaine, Seriina Covarrubias and Jeff Brailey for assistance in transcribing Jonestown tapes; and Michael Bellefountaine (again) and Don Beck for typing the journals of Temple member Edith Roller.

We also thank the scores of people who have written in to correct various errors, especially those on the death list. We cannot emphasize how much we encourage these contacts. One of the founding goals of this website was to give names and to restore humanity to those people who died in Jonestown, and we can do that only through the help of the relatives and friends of the Jonestown dead to ensure accuracy and precision.

Rebecca Moore & Fielding M. McGehee III