A New Vision for the Website

After two years of operation, the Jonestown website, http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/ has over 27,000 hits. We receive an average of two or three e-mail inquiries per week. About half of the inquiries come from students and researchers writing papers or studying “cults.” About one-fourth to one-third come from family members of Peoples Temple members, who help with correcting the list of those who died in Jonestown, and with the list of those who survived. The remainder come from journalists in the news media who are doing stories or articles on Peoples Temple, Jonestown, or other issues related to New Religious Movements.

The editors of the jonestown report have re-envisioned the site as a source for primary source data about Peoples Temple. The site began two years ago at the University of North Dakota in anticipation of media coverage of the twentieth anniversary of the deaths in Jonestown. Due to the accelerating loss of documents, and the deaths of individuals knowledgeable about Peoples Temple, however, it has become clear that a need exists to recover as many documents, and to talk to as many people, as possible. Our goal is to make the site a repository for as much information as possible, and to make that information available free of charge.

The death list continues to be updated and corrected with the help of relatives and friends who point out inconsistencies, duplications, or errors. It was completely overhauled this year, thanks to the use of Peoples Temple census records kept in Jonestown. Because relatives have identified errors and problems, the list is without doubt the most complete and accurate record of those who died in Jonestown that exists anywhere. It can continue to be improved, however, as friends and relatives continue to discover the site for the first time.