Report from the California Historical Society

Over the past two and a half years, CHS staff and volunteers have been working with Mary Morganti, Director of Research Collections, to increase access to the Peoples Temple collections. Volunteer Denice Stephenson, working under the direction of Manuscripts Librarian Tanya Hollis, completed arrangement and description of the three smaller collections which had been previously unprocessed, while Manuscripts Cataloger, Wendy Kramer, created catalog records for all the Peoples Temple related collections. Library school intern/volunteer Martha Noble has completed editing on the finding aid for the Moore Family Papers so that it could be searchable online.

As a result, researchers can now search under the subject “Peoples Temple” to find all of the Peoples Temple-related primary source materials in Melvyl (http://melvyl.cdlib.org), the online catalog of the University of California libraries, the California State Library, and a number of independent California libraries, including the library of the California Historical Society. The Melvyl catalog includes a description of the Moore Family Papers, as well as books and government documents related to the Peoples Temple located at CHS and other libraries throughout the state. Non-print holdings include audio and video recordings of Temple meetings, interviews with Jim Jones and Jonestown news footage. Guides or finding aids to larger collections – such as the Moore Family Papers – provide more detailed information than is possible in catalog records; these may be searched in the Online Archive of California (http://www.oac.cdlib.org).

Current efforts at CHS focus on processing the 15 cartons of documents that constitute the FBI Papers from Jonestown. The FBI numbered the documents that were gathered by U.S. and Guyanese officials and produced a general outline of the papers in 1979. CHS plans to produce and provide online access to a finding aid to this collection, as well as revise the original 1985 guide to the Peoples Temple Records. The collection consists of 130 cartons of the Temple’s organizational and personal records, along with the papers generated by the settling of the Peoples Temple estate and dissolution of the organization.

CHS continues to support scholarly and family-related research in the Peoples Temple Collection. Researchers display a wide range of interests in the collection, from the roles of politicians in the Temple’s history, to investigations into the organization’s social work and advocacy. Researchers are working on books, scholarly articles, documentary films, and theatrical productions.

The North Baker Research Library is open to the public Wednesday through Friday from 12:00 pm to 4:30 pm. Appointments are not required, but due to the limited amount of seating in the Reading Room, researchers are encouraged to email or call ahead if they would like to discuss their research prior to visiting or to reserve a seat. Contact the Library by email at reference@calhist.org or call 415-357-1848 ext. 20.

Please note that the Library will be closed from August 11-September 2, 2003.

Originally posted on July 25th, 2013.

Last modified on October 11th, 2013.
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