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 direct all questions about permissions and copyright to Fielding McGehee.
Peoples Temple Flickr Site
The largest collection of downloadable photographs is at the Peoples Temple site on Flickr. In addition to the collection at large, there are numerous 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.
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 also appear on the JonestownMemorial.com website. Please request permission to use any of these photographs by writing to Fielding McGehee.
The Peoples Temple Collection at San Diego State University Special Collections
Hundreds of photos are available at the San Diego State University Library’s Digital Collections site. These include the Jones Family Memorabilia Collection and the Peoples Temple Collection (1972–1990). The Stephan Jones collection of memorabilia contained in two Jones Family Albums in the Peoples Temple Collection can be accessed by searching on either “father and animals,” which actually includes photos of Jim Jones with humans as well as animals; or “healings.” Photographs taken by the Moore Family are found in the “yellow album.” Photographs taken by members of Peoples Temple (and are mainly of Jonestown) and acquired by the Moore family are found in the “blue album.” Miscellaneous photos gathered or taken by the FBI at Jonestown are scattered throughout the Peoples Temple Collection, and can be located by searching “Federal Bureau of Investigation,” once the full collection is accessed. Some photographs are copyright-protected (and all have a watermark), so please contact the Head of Special Collections, Mr. Robert Ray 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.
Please note: All photos in the CHS collections are protected by copyright restrictions. Please contact CHS for permission to use any CHS photos you find on this or any other page of this website.
CHS also houses 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.
CHS is also actively soliciting other collections and albums of photographs. Contact CHS 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. Others appear in the Flickr collection above. Many of the 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.”