Freedom of Information Developments and Notes

• A request made under the Freedom of Information Act by author Jeff Guinn has resulted in the release of a 49-page diary kept by Peoples Temple attorney Mark Lane in the days and weeks after the tragedy of November 1978.

The diary had been previously withheld in its entirety under the privacy exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act, and was released only after Lane’s death in 2016. Even with the release, the diary contains numerous redactions of many of the other names within its pages.

The release of the diary in September 2017 is the first significant release of materials related to the Temple in several years.

The Lane diary is currently available as a PDF. A Word version will be available soon as part of this website’s efforts to transcribe many of the FBI’s RYMUR files.

• The National Archives has taken custody of the records of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s investigation into the deaths of Rep. Leo Ryan and the people of Jonestown.

The records, which were placed under seal for 30 years after the committee completed its report in May 1979, were transferred to the National Archives in 2009. The records are available only through personal visits to the National Archives in Washington D.C., and no plans for digitization have been made.

• The Office of the Historian of the U.S. State Department has compiled and released scores of documents related to the communications between the department – as well as its Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana – with Peoples Temple and Jonestown. The records were gathered by a compiler of a volume of agency documents on the Carter administration’s Caribbean foreign policy. “In my official capacity,” the federal researcher writes, “I look for important documents related to the Caribbean and then fast-track them for declassification. It was my duty to look at U.S.-Guyanese relations, and, of course, those relations are incomplete without lengthy documentation of Peoples Temple.”

The link to the Guyana compilation is here.

Originally posted on October 30th, 2017.

Last modified on November 14th, 2018.
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