The website “Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple” continues to grow and improve. The most exciting development this year was adoption of an easy-to-remember virtual URL. http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/ replaces the previous lengthy and cumbersome address, although your computer bookmarks to the previous address will still bring you to the site.
The principal additions to the site included creation of a Primary Sources page, a list of Unclaimed Property available to heirs of Jonestown decedents, and a notice of those who died in Jonestown prior to 18 November 1978.
The Primary Sources page includes important documents in the history of the Peoples Temple. A letter from the “Eight Revolutionaries” — an early and searing statement that eight young defectors wrote in 1973 — currently appears on the site. Jim Jones’ document “The Letter Killeth” — an undated, 24-page booklet which Jones prepared to denigrate the Bible’s legitimacy through its errors and inconsistencies — was also recently uploaded uploaded. We have plans to add similar documents during 2003.
The site also recently added a short list of the six people who died in Jonestown prior to 18 November 1978. Coupled with other lists at the Who Died page, we have now accounted for more than 900 people who died that day, and about 120 people — in Jonestown, Port Kaituma and Georgetown — who survived the deaths. These lists were completely updated and revamped, thanks in part to documents we have received through the lawsuit McGehee et al. v. Justice Department, and thanks in part to numerous former members, survivors and relatives who have contacted the website with additions and corrections. We continue to seek additional refinements to the list, and invite whatever information you have.
Finally at that location on the site is a list of individual Temple members who may themselves — or through their heirs — be eligible to recover property held in escrow by the California State Controller’s Office. This listing of Unclaimed Property was sent to us by one of our readers. Although the list is incomplete, it would be worthwhile for relatives to check the site in order to access the Unclaimed Property Department through the California Secretary of State.
Tape summaries and transcripts continued to be uploaded onto the site. About 100 such items are currently available for researchers and family members to access. In addition, by using the site’s search function — the first button on the contents page — you can identify individuals and subjects throughout the site, especially in the tapes and transcripts.
Efforts to make the site user-friendly, more accessible, and more comprehensive will continue in anticipation of a wave of interest coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the Jonestown deaths.