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    OF THE



    A Microfilm Publication by

    Scholarly Resources Inc. An Imprint of Thomson Gale

    Table of Contents Publisher’s Note, iv

    Introduction to the Collection, v

Reel Notes for FBI File on Jonestown, 1

    Publisher’s Note

     The microfilm publication of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Files is produced with the cooperation of the FBI, Washington, DC. The publisher does not claim copyright to the materials comprising this collection or to the accompanying guide.

     The documents were filmed in the exact order as supplied by the FBI. Pages may be missing from some files, some files may be out of order, and some files were missing and not available for microfilming. Other files may be duplicates.



    On November 18, 1978, James Warren (“Jim”) Jones, founder and head of Peoples Temple, ordered the assassination of California congressman Leo Ryan and the mass suicide of nearly one thousand of his followers in his colony (The Promised Land), which he had established in the jungles of Guyana. Jones himself died in the catastrophe. The events in Jonestown, as reporters called the enclave, stunned the world and deepened the fear of cults already rampant in the United States.

    Jim Jones was born in Crete, Indiana in 1931. He went into the Pentecostal ministry as a youth, establishing a congregation in Indianapolis that took the name Peoples Temple in 1955. In time, Jones affiliated both himself and his congregation with the mainline denomination, the Disciples of Christ. From the beginning, Jones maintained a biracial congregation.

    In the early 1960s, Jones became increasingly concerned about the nuclear threat and left Indianapolis for about two years, visiting Hawaii, Guyana, and finally Brazil before he returned to his congregation in Indiana and began to shift his beliefs from his original Christian base. In 1965 he sent the first of his followers to Mendocino County in northern California, where he incorporated Peoples Temple in 1966. He listed eighty-six followers at that time. When Jones moved himself and his family to the city of Ukiah, on the Russian River, the Peoples Temple began to expand. He opened branches in San Francisco and Los Angeles and converted middle-class whites, as well as elderly black followers.

    In 1970 he opened his temple on Geary Street in San Francisco and concentrated his efforts there. In California, Jones presented his ministry as a part of the Christian spectrum, only revealing his increasingly radical political and religious tenets to those he fully trusted. From the beginning of his California enterprise, Jones recognized the political influence that he and his loyal followers could wield. Through volunteer work, clever public relations, and effective voting, the Peoples Temple became a force, first in the Republican Party in Mendocino County and then in Democratic politics in San Francisco. Jones and his lieutenants also organized his followers for fund-raising, going into health care for the elderly, and other enterprises. Jones left millions of dollars after his death, and critics debate over whether he exploited his followers financially.

    Jones was well known in San Francisco. He helped organize Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign in 1976 and was appointed to the city’s Public Housing Authority.

    The following year he was invited to sit at the head table at the annual banquet of Religion in American Life.

    Jones was expanding his darker side during this time. His political and social ideas were becoming increasingly radical as he moved to “apostolic socialism” and identified himself to his followers as a Communist. And he left Christian tenets to tell his followers that he was God. He began to toy with the idea of a mass suicide of his followers, what he called “revolutionary suicide,” or death as a demonstration of radical will. He also had decided to move his flock to the South American nation of Guyana, whose socialist politics and isolation were comfortable to him. In 1976 he leased the land that he had chosen there for his colony, the Promised Land, and sent an early group of his followers to prepare for him and the others.


    By 1976 there were several defectors from Peoples Temple, including Grace Stoen, whose husband had signed a document in 1972 stating that Jones was the father of Grace’s child. While Tim Stoen was still working for Jones, Grace began demanding access to her child. In 1976 the boy was taken to Guyana, and Jones soon followed.

    Jones’s publicity and flamboyant actions aroused curiosity as rumors circulated

    around San Francisco about the minister, the Peoples Temple, and its members. In 1977, New West, a magazine recently purchased by Rupert Murdoch, scheduled a story about Jones based on material from former followers. Jones’s loyalists generated publicity for

    the story when they first attempted to block the exposé and then to discredit the information that it contained, but Jones was already in his refuge in Guyana by the time the story broke.

    The stories about Peoples Temple, along with reports of strange actions by other groups labeled as cults, led families of members of the temple to organize a Concerned Parents group to try to retrieve their relatives from Guyana. Jones’s alleged son, John Victor Stoen, was one of the chief targets; Tim Stoen left the cult and joined the boy’s

    mother in pressing for his return.

    The federal government was increasingly concerned with the actions of Peoples Temple in Guyana as stories of gun-running to Jonestown and bank transactions circulated. By this time, Jones was ill, addicted to drugs, and possibly demented. He still ruled his colony, however, and in 1978 he began to excite his followers, who were so isolated from the rest of the world, with stories of impending disaster. He called for “white nights,” where the inhabitants of the Promised Land would practice revolutionary suicide.

    In November 1978, Congressman Leo Ryan of California went to Guyana to see the conditions of Jonestown. When he left, Ryan took with him others who wanted to leave the colony. His plane was attacked, and Ryan and others were killed. Back at Jonestown, Jim Jones carried out the final performance of his “white nights.” When investigators arrived at the colony, they found the bodies of Jones and 913 of his followers, who either had swallowed Kool-Aid laced with cyanide, or who had been shot by Jones’s loyalists.


    Source: “Peoples Temple and the Jonestown Massacre, November 18, 1978.” Discovering U.S. History. Gale Research, 1997. Reproduced in History Resource Center, Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.

    [Publisher’s Note: Following the news of the mass suicide that took place soon after Congressman Ryan’s murder, rumors spread that Jones had left instructions for assassinations to take place in the United States, and that he had created a “hit list” of

    targets that included government officials and defectors from the Peoples Temple. The FBI scrambled to identify and interview people in the States who might be connected to Jones to make sure that they were not a threat.

    The summary reports of these interviews represent the bulk of the FBI file on Jonestown and contain a great deal of information concerning the inner workings and activities of the cult in the United States, including arms smuggling, drug trafficking, and terrorist attacks, as well as experiences at Jonestown such as the “white nights” rehearsals of mass suicide and public ritual beatings intended to humiliate and psychologically


    control cult members. The interviewees also offer an insider’s depiction of Jones’s paranoid personality, describing his aberrant behaviors, including narcotics abuse and unconventional sexual practices that he integrated into his self-styled religion.

    The FBI’s files on Jonestown provide an insight into the 1970s culture of

    paranoia in the wake of the Charles Manson murders and the Patti Hearst kidnapping, both of which are referenced in these files in relation to Jones and the Peoples Temple. Also of interest is how the FBI attempted to come to grips with the often frightening manifestations of the growing counterculture opposed to mainstream America.]


    Marc Galanter, Cults: Faith, Healing, and Coercion (New York: Oxford

    University Press, 1989).

    John R. Hall, Gone from the Promised Land: Jonestown in American Cultural

    History (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1987).

    George Klineman and Sherman Butler, The Cult That Died: The Tragedy of Jim

    Jones and the Peoples Temple (New York: Putnam, 1980).





    Reels 1-37


    Reel Notes: FBI File on Jonestown

    Reel No. Frame No. Reel Contents

    1 File No.: 89-4286

     0001 Volume 1, Section 1

     0069 Volume 2, Section 2

     0350 Volume 3, Section 3

     0523 Volume 4, Section 4

     0681 Volume 5, Section 5

     0892 Volume 6, Section 6

     1109 Volume 7, Section 7

    2 File No.: 89-4286 (contd.)

     0001 Volume 8, Section 8

     0219 Volume 9, Section 9

     0502 Volume 10, Section 10

     0607 Volume 11, Section 11

     1007 Volume 12, Section 12

     1151 Volume 13, Section 13

    3 File No.: 89-4286 (contd.)

     0001 Volume 14, Section 14

     0271 Volume 15, Section 15

     0793 Volume 16, Section 16

     1279 Volume 17, Section 17

    4 File No.: 89-4286 (contd.)

     0001 Volume 18, Section 18

     0214 Volume 19, Section 19

     0335 Volume 20, Section 20

     0494 Volume 21, Section 21

     0796 Volume 22, Section 22

     1096 Volume 23, Section 23

    5 File No.: 89-4286 (contd.)

     0001 Volume 24, Section 24

     0366 Volume 25, Section 25

     0483 Volume 26, Section 26

     0731 Volume 27, Section 27

     0978 Volume 28, Section 28


    Reel Notes: FBI File on Jonestown

    Reel No. Frame No. Reel Contents

    6 File No.: 89-4286 (contd.)

     0001 Volume 29, Section 29

     0224 Volume 30, Section 30

     0552 Volume 31, Section 31

     0728 Volume 32, Section 32

     0990 Volume 33, Section 33

     1141 Volume 34, Section 34

    7 File No.: 89-4286 (contd.)

     0001 Volume 35, Section 35

     0188 Volume 36, Section 36

     0366 Volume 37, Section 37

     0589 Volume 38, Section 38

     0773 Volume 39, Section 39

     0912 Volume 40, Section 40

     0998 Volume 41, Section 41

     1007 Bulky 1286, Lab Evidence, Parts 1-3

    8 File No.: 89-4286 (contd.)

     0001 Bulky 2018, A-1 Financial

     0354 Bulky 2018, A-2 Financial

     0723 Bulky 2018, A-3 Financial

     1218 Bulky 2018, A-4 Financial

    9 File No.: 89-4286 (contd.)

     0001 Bulky 2018, A-5 Financial

     0492 Bulky 2018, A-6 Financial

     0495 Bulky 2018, A-7 Financial

     0508 Bulky 2018, A-8 Financial

     0513 Bulky 2018, A-9 Financial

     0516 Bulky 2018, A-10 Financial

     0535 Bulky 2018, A-11 Financial

     0549 Bulky 2018, A-12 Financial

     0557 Bulky 2018, A-13 Financial

     0968 Bulky 2018, A-14 through A-18 Financial

    10 File No.: 89-4286 (contd.)

     0001 Bulky 2018, A-19 through A-24 Financial

     0460 Bulky 2018, A-25 Financial

     0815 Bulky 2018, A-26 Financial


    Reel Notes: FBI File on Jonestown

    Reel No. Frame No. Reel Contents

    11 File No.: 89-4286 (contd.)

     0001 Bulky 2018, A-27 Financial

     0290 Bulky 2018, A-28 Financial

     0568 Bulky 2018, A-29 Financial

     0811 Bulky 2018, A-30 Financial

     1081 Bulky 2018, A-31 Financial

12 File No.: 89-4286 (contd.)

     0001 Bulky 2018, A-32 Financial

     0273 Bulky 2018, A-33 Financial

     0560 Bulky 2018, A-34 through A-37 Financial

     0869 Bulky 2018, A-38 through A-39 Financial

     1288 Bulky 2018, A-40 Financial

13 File No.: 89-4286 (contd.)

     0001 Bulky 2018, B-1 Legal

     0620 Bulky 2018, B-2 Legal

     0933 Bulky 2018, B-3 Legal

14 File No.: 89-4286 (contd.)

     0001 Bulky 2018, B-4 Legal

     0587 Bulky 2018, B-5 Legal

15 File No.: 89-4286 (contd.)

     0001 Bulky 2018, C-1 Diary of PT Members (Part 1)

     0360 Bulky 2018, C-1 Diary of PT Members (Part 2)

     0916 Bulky 2018, C-2 Diary of PT Members (Part 1)

16 File No.: 89-4286 (contd.)

     0001 Bulky 2018, C-2 Diary of PT Members (Part 2)

     0545 Bulky 2018, C-3 Diary of PT Members (Part 1)

     0944 Bulky 2018, C-3 Diary of PT Members (Part 2)

     1289 Bulky 2018, C-4 Guyanese Land Lease

     Bulky 2018, C-5 White Night

     Bulky 2018, C-6 Guest Book


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