This is a listing of cables sent either by the State Department or by one of its embassies – on this particular chart, almost exclusively from Georgetown, Guyana – between June 1974, when the American government first learned about the Peoples Temple agricultural project in Jonestown, and the end of 1977.
It should be noted that many of the texts for the cables below were provided by the Wikileaks site, which was discovered to be defunct in late 2022. This is especially true for cables for which there is no corresponding pdf, such as the August 25, 1977 cable from Georgetown to State, or which were heavily redacted, such as the December 23, 1977 cable from Georgetown to State. For more discussion of Wikileaks’ collapse, click here.
|740607||1510||Georgetown||9811 0930||Query on crew members of Cudjoe||State||Text|
|740607||2044||State||120784||Query on crew members of Cudjoe||State||Text|
|740613||1935||Georgetown||0977 9849||American citizens in Guyana settle near Venezuelan border||State||Text|
|740702||1516||Caracas||06033 4444||American citizens near Venezuelan border cause concern||State||Text|
|740718||1430||Georgetown||01236 0015||American citizens in Guyana settle near Venezuelan border||State State||Text|
|761221||1625||Georgetown||2588 3913||Local press coverage of Dymally press conference||State||Text|
|761229||1940||Georgetown||2637 3949||Dymally visit to Guyana||State||Text|
|770103||1750||Georgetown||00010 3365||Dymally wrap-up||State||Text|
|770822||2037||Georgetown||1981 5163||Joseph Mazor wants to remove seven children from Guyana||State||Text|
|770825||1100||Georgetown||2010 5184||GOG advises US parents on child custody issues||None||Text|
|770826||State||202932||W/W Caroline Sue Looman||State||Text|
|770826||1710||Georgetown||2022 5190||W/W Caroline Sue Looman||State Stoen||Text|
|770829||2354||State||206551||W/W Caroline Sue Looman||State Stoen||Text|
|770830||0025||State||206679||Jeffrey Haas to travel to Guyana on Stoen custody matter||Stoen||Text|
|770901||1310||Georgetown||2079 5228||W/W Caroline Sue Looman||State||Text|
|770901||1600||Georgetown||2087 5232||US Consul visits Jonestown||State||Text|
|770903||0236||Georgetown||211832||W/W Caroline Sue Looman||State||Text|
|770906||1820||Georgetown||2132 5260||Conversation with Joe Mazor||State||Text|
|770906||1844||State||212644||W/W Caroline Sue Looman||State Stoen||Text|
|770909||1700||Georgetown||2175 5273||Haas fails in attempt to serve process on Jones||State Stoen||Text|
|770909||2135||State||216553||Embassy declines to accompany Haas to Jonestown||Stoen||Text|
|770912||1110||Georgetown||2206 5288||Attempts to serve Jim Jones are unsuccessful||Stoen||Text|
|770913||2154||State||219301||Calif needs names of children to assist in custody||Stoen||Text|
|770913||2159||State||219323||W/W: Berda Johnson||State||Text|
|770914||1428||Georgetown||2236||Haas has authority to obtain passport for John Victor Stoen||State||Text|
|770919||1335||Georgetown||2265 5325||W/W Berda Johnson||State||Text|
|770919||1545?||Georgetown||2269 5329||Stoen custody battle “now entered political arena”||State||Text|
|770919||2034||Georgetown||None||Looman complains about lack of neutrality in JVS case||Stoen||Text|
|770922||1030||Georgetown||2316 5349||Jones to challenge in Stoen custody case||Stoen||Text|
|770923||1700||Georgetown||2334 5363||Court hearing on Stoen custody case||Stoen||Text|
|770927||1900||Georgetown||2363 5381||Court hearing on Stoen custody case||State Stoen||Text|
|770929||2231||State||234710||W/W Jann Gurvich||State||Text|
|771003||1920||Georgetown||2425 5415||W/W Jann Gurvich & Maria Katsaris||State||Text|
|771004||1544||Georgetown||2435 5418||Court ruling on Stoen custody expected||State Stoen||Text|
|771012||1500||Georgetown||2528 5477||Court denies motion to produce JVS||Stoen||Text|
|771105||0324||State||264830||W/W Marshall Farris||State||Text|
|771109||1530||Georgetown||2846 5642||W/W Marshall Farris||State||Text|
|771114||1930||Georgetown||2890 5667||Maria Katsaris meets with father in Georgetown||State||Text|
|771122||2008||State||279720||Stoens present custody order to Guyana court||Stoen||Text|
|771125||1340||Georgetown||3033 5732||JVS cannot leave Guyana until case resolved||Stoen||Text|
|771128||1245||Georgetown||3048 5743||W/W Eugene Chaikin||State||Text|
|771202||1420||Georgetown||3098 5778||Death of Emmitt Griffith||State||Text|
|771202||1712||State||287946||Request for personal info on Jim Jones||State||Text|
|771209||2058||State||294454||W/W James Edwards||State||Text|
|771215||1030||Georgetown||3221 5855||Request for personal info on Jim Jones||State Stoen||Text|
|771215||1115||Georgetown||3223 5858||W/W James Edwards||State||Text|
|771220||2233||State||303126||W/W Dana Griffith||State||Text|
|771220||2245||State||303147||W/W Griffith Family||State||Text|
|771223||1250||Georgetown||3316 5905||W/W custody case of John Stoen||State Stoen||Text|
|771223||1446||Georgetown||3322 5908||W/W Dana Griffith||State||Text|
|771228||1937||State||308414||W/W Gregory Watkins||State||Text|
|771229||2257||State||309694||W/W Dana Griffith, report of death of Emmitt Griffith||State||Text|
|771229||2259||State||309704||W/W Darrell Devers||State||Text|
|771230||1033||Georgetown||3356 5929||W/W Bruce and William Oliver||State||Text|
The cables at the basis of this research come from a variety of sources.
• The bulk of them came from the State Department itself, in response to a Freedom of Information request for documents on Jonestown and Peoples Temple. The request was made by Rebecca Moore and Fielding McGehee, who eventually became the managers of this website. Of the 5700 pages that State released in 1981, fully 3000 were cables dating from 1974 until 1981, most of them from November and December of 1978 and early 1979.
• A smaller collection from the State Department came in response to another FOIA request, this one for what the agency had on the custody battle over John Victor Stoen, a battle waged by Timothy and Grace Stoen, primarily against Jim Jones.
• The second most productive official source was the FBI, which released many State Department cables collected during the FBI’s investigation of the Leo Ryan assassination (RYMUR).
• In 2014, the State Department released thousands of agency files as part of a general declassification review. Hundreds of those related to Peoples Temple. They didn’t become widely available to the public, however, until 2015 and 2016, when Wikileaks put them online. While the resulting record was neither official nor complete – there are scores of cables that the State Department continues to withhold and that Wikileaks didn’t access – the texts that Wikileaks posted are accurate.
It should be noted that many cables contain information which was deleted under an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act. The majority of those cables were eventually re-released with the exemptions lifted. The more-recently declassified passages appear in red type of the text version of the cables.
The most commonly-used exemptions by State are:
b(1) = information the release of which would jeopardize national security
b(6) = information the release of which would violate an individual’s privacy
This is a key to the meaning of the columns and the notations within them:
Columns 1 and 2 comprise the dates and times that the cables were sent. The dates are in the format of the last two digits of the year (74-79), the month (01-12) and the day. As an example, November 18, 1978 would be designated as 781118. The times are in Greenwich Mean Time, used internationally on all cables. They are included because – especially in the first few days after the tragedy – scores of cables were flashing back and forth between offices on a single day.
Column 3 comprises the government agencies and embassies sending the cables. On this listing, the only two originating entities are the State Department and the American Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana.
Column 4 provides the cable identification number, unique to each document.
Column 5 presents a brief description of the cable’s contents. (The abbreviation “W/W” which appears on numerous cables means “Whereabouts and Welfare,” the State Department’s notation of the checks it makes on American citizens in foreign countries.)
Columns 6 and 7 provide links to the PDF and Text versions of the cables. The PDF indicates whether the cable came pursuant to the general FOIA request of State or to the second request for Stoen documents.