It is no exaggeration to say that members of Peoples Temple were once in possession of hundreds of thousands of photographs, and many thousands more were generated by the Temple organization itself.
A majority of these photos are gone forever. Many were lost in Jonestown, and many others disappeared from the Temple’s stateside offices in the weeks following the tragedy of November 1978. Even earlier than that, though, there are stories of Temple members being required to relinquish their photos albums – either by turning them over to non-Temple family members, or, in those cases where an entire family joined, destroying the photos – as they pledged allegiance to their new Temple family.
Nevertheless, thousands of the photos still survived. Please visit this link for guidelines in using photos available on this site and through the sources listed below. If you have additional questions about permissions and copyright after reading the instructions below, you may write to Fielding McGehee.
The largest collection of downloadable photographs is at the Peoples Temple site on Flickr. Currently the site has 81 photos albums that include photos from Indianapolis, Redwood Valley, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Jonestown. There are also photos of hundreds of individual Temple members.
This site is managed and updated by Rebecca Moore. She invites you to contribute any and all additional photos you might have to this growing collection. She also asks that anyone who can identify the unnamed people in these and other photographs on this site to contact her.
To search the Flickr site, click on Photostream, rather than Albums. A search icon (magnifying glass) will appear on the righthand side just above the first row of photos. Click on the icon and a search box will appear at the top of the web page. Type in a short descriptor—e.g. Marceline Jones, agriculture, school, Redwood Valley, etc.—and photos with that tag will pop up. If you click on the photo itself, it will provide a description, photo credit information (if available), and the album in which the photo appears.
Special Note: Membership and passport photos of Temple members who died in Jonestown appear on the list of those Who Died under the individual’s name. These and other portraits, which come to us courtesy of the California Historical Society, also appear on the JonestownMemorial.com website. Please request permission to use any of these photographs by writing to Debra Kaufman at CHS.
The Peoples Temple Collection at San Diego State University Special Collections
Hundreds of photos are available at the San Diego State University Library’s SDSUnbound site. These include the Jones Family Memorabilia Collection and the Peoples Temple Collection (1972–1990). These collections can also be found going to the Islandora Advanced Search, and clicking on “All Collections.” The Jones Family Memorabilia Collection was donated by Stephan Jones, and contains personal photos and effects of Jim Jones, Marceline Jones, and other members of the Jones Family. The Peoples Temple Collection (1972–1990) contains photographs taken by the John V Moore Family on a visit to Jonestown in May 1978 (search within Peoples Temple Collection for “yellow album”; photographs taken by Rebecca Moore and Fielding McGehee on their visit to Jonestown in May 1979 (search within Peoples Temple collection for “yellow album”; and photographs acquired by the Moore Family (search within Peoples Temple Collection for “blue album.”) Some photographs are copyright-protected, so please contact the Head of Special Collections, Anna Culbertson for permission to reproduce items.
California Historical Society Photos
Many photos have found their way into numerous collections at the California Historical Society. Some of these have been digitized, but many have not. In addition, CHS has uploaded numerous videos from Jonestown onto its site.
CHS has also uploaded a large collection of photographs, slides, contact prints, and audiovisual recordings from the Peoples Temple Publications Department, donated by Tim and Jean Clancey. A description of the collection appears here. The photos and audio materials appear here.
Please note: All photos in the CHS collections are protected by copyright restrictions. Please contact Debra Kaufman for permission to use any CHS photos you find on this or any other page of this website.
CHS is also actively soliciting other collections and albums of photographs. Contact Debra Kaufman if you are interested in making a donation of Temple materials.
Photos Recovered by the FBI
Many photographs were recovered by the FBI following the deaths in Jonestown. A sampling of the photographs appear here on the Jonestown website. Others appear in the Flickr collection in at least five albums: FBI Photos from Jonestown 01, FBI Photos from Jonestown 02, FBI Photos from Jonestown 03, FBI Photos from Jonestown 04, and FBI Investigators 1978. Other photos collected by the FBI appear scattered throughout Flickr albums devoted to life in Jonestown. Many additional photos, however, have not yet been released in a reproducible format from the FBI, an issue which is still the subject of continuing litigation.
The Brian Holtz Collection
A number of copyright-protected images from Jonestown have been gathered by Brian Holtz. They can be viewed by clicking here. Some of these photographs duplicate those already in the Jonestown Flickr site, but many are news photos, particularly from the crime scene. Brian Holtz describes himself as a Libertarian activist and software engineer in Silicon Valley. He believes that “you can be as liberal or as conservative as you want, as long as you and your government don’t force others to be like you. He became interested in Jonestown when he learned that the Peoples Temple was not so much about religion as it was about socialist utopianism.”