Additional Archival Resources for Research on Jonestown Available at San Diego State University

by Jennifer L. Martinez 

The Special Collections and University Archives division of San Diego State University Library and Information Access is delighted to announce the completion of the processing of the Peoples Temple Collection. Consisting of 38 boxes of archival material which span the years 1972-1990, the collection contains an extensive array of audiotapes (including transcripts and summaries), copies of declassified FBI documents, newspaper articles and ephemera related to the Peoples Temple Christian Church and the Peoples Temple Agricultural Settlement at Jonestown, Guyana. This collection, donated to the SDSU library by Dr. Rebecca Moore and Fielding McGehee III in 2003 and 2004, was arranged and described over the last year by religious studies students Angelique Korobi and Mark Fein under the supervision of Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarian Jennifer L. Martinez.

Of note in the collection is the full set of approximately 750 audiotapes recovered by the FBI at Jonestown. The tapes include sermons and healing services by Peoples Temple founder Jim Jones, telephone conversations, and staff meetings from the Temple’s years in the United States. They also contain community meetings and radio broadcasts from Jonestown. Many of these recordings have been transcribed and summarized by members of The Jonestown Institute, and the recordings, transcripts, and summaries are available for research use.

As part of her work with the collection, Angelique Korobi created an extensive personal name index through which researchers may easily identify the audiotapes on which specific individuals speak or are discussed as subjects. We anticipate that this multi-page index will be a boon to researchers and family members who previously did not have a systematic means of locating information about specific Jonestown residents.

Many of the FBI files represented in the collection are paper copies of original documents, while others are on compact disk. Some of these files contain medical records, cards of Jonestown members, and files on specific individuals and reports. There is also a selection of United States Air Force documents on microfilm and State Department documents on microfiche.

The collection has been thoroughly described in a finding aid which contains the personal name index mentioned above. The finding aid is available for consultation in the Kenney Reading Room of Special Collections and University Archives of San Diego State University Library and Information Access, and will soon be posted on the department’s website in order to facilitate remote access to the collection. Further information may also be obtained by contacting Special Collections and University Archives at (619) 594-6791.

(Jennifer L. Martinez is the Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarian in Special Collections and University Archives of San Diego State University Library. She may be reached at jmartine@sdsu.edu.)

Originally posted on July 25th, 2013.

Last modified on April 26th, 2018.
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