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Peoples Temple Publications Department Records
MS 3791  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Restricted Materials
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Arrangement
  • Administrative History
  • General
  • Technical Access
  • Physical Access
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Related Materials
  • Scope and Contents
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Camera Use Policy

  • Contributing Institution: California Historical Society
    Title: Peoples Temple Publications Department Records
    Creator: Peoples Temple
    Identifier/Call Number: MS 3791
    Physical Description: 28.25 linear feet (29 o-ring preservation box albums, 9 legal document boxes, four albums with slipcases, 2 record storage cartons, 1 oversize flat print box Q, 1 shallow lid cabinet card box, 1 flip top cabinet card box, 1 oversize print box B, 1 oversize legal document box, 1 large capacity CD box)
    Date (inclusive): circa 1965-1978
    Abstract: Records mainly consist of photographs created or collected by Peoples Temple members in order to support the Temple's public relations efforts, including the publication of the Peoples Forum newspaper. The collection includes approximately 53,500 black-and-white 35mm negative images; 3,500 color slides; 30,000 individual contact prints; and hundreds of photographic prints, representing over 56,000 unique images of Peoples Temple. Images extensively document Peoples Temple's activism, particularly during the critical years of 1976 to 1978. The collection contains a wealth of imagery depicting the demonstrations, rallies, and events organized by Peoples Temple in support of prominent public officials, activists, and organizations in California, as well as images of Jonestown, Guyana. In addition to photographs, the collections includes 43 film and video recordings of Peoples Temple in California and Guyana; 49 audio recordings of sermons and interviews given by Jim Jones; and publications, ephemera, and manuscript material, including the "Conspiracy Book," compiled by the Publications Department to document alleged media and government conspiracies against Peoples Temple, and mailers illustrating Peoples Temple's religious outreach to the African American community.
    Language of Material: Collection materials are in English.

    Restricted Materials

    Some materials in this collection are restricted to protect the privacy of living people. Medically sensitive materials have been restricted for 75 years after their last possible date of creation; others have been restricted for the lifetimes of their subjects.
    All researchers must sign the Access Agreement form, confirming that they have read and understood the restrictions outlined in the document Restricted Materials in the Peoples Temple Publications Department Records, MS 3791. This document, and the Access Agreement form, are available at the reference desk or can be sent electronically.
    Restricted Materials in the Peoples Temple Publications Department Records, MS 3791
    Open but subject to restrictions on disclosure:
    Records throughout the collection may contain personally identifiable information of a personal or confidential nature such as medical information and social security numbers. Publication or disclosure of such information is strictly prohibited, unless researcher can show proof that the person is deceased, or has provided proof of permission by the party named to CHS.
    Sealed and closed until 2046: [Peoples Temple meeting], Thanksgiving meeting, Nov. 25, 1971, Reel 1, Video Tape 04, Box 43. [Peoples Temple meeting, Los Angeles], 11-27-71, #2, Video Tape 10, Box 43. [Peoples Temple meeting], Reel #3, 11/27/71, L.A. meeting, Video Tape 03, Box 43.
    Sealed and closed until 2050: [Peoples Temple meeting], March 5, 1975, Wed nite, Video Tape 01, Box 43. [Peoples Temple meeting], 3/14/1975, Video Tape 02, Box 43.
    Sealed and closed until 2051: Testimony Photographs (Found with Disappearing Photographs), Box 51, Folder 19
    Sealed and closed until 2052: Visitor Information Cards, Box 51, Folders 4-5.
    Sealed and closed until 2053: Portraits [restricted], Box 51, Folders 1-2. Restricted Contact Sheets from 90220-91399, Box 51, Folder 6. Medical Photographs, Box 51, Folders 7-8. Restricted Contact Prints and Negatives, Box 51, Folder 9. Disappearing Photograph Correspondence, Box 51, Folder 10. Disappearing Photograph Envelopes, Box 51, Folders 11-12. Disappearing Photographs, Box 51, Folder 13. [Medical, Restricted], Box 51, Folder 14. Conspiracy Book [restricted], Box 51, Folder 15. [Psychic surgery on unidentified woman's abdomen and neck], Film Reel 40, Box 44. [Peoples Temple meeting], L.A. Saturday, Video Tape 07, Box 43 Restricted Slides, Box 51, Folder 16 People Who Left the Temple, Box 51, Folder 17 Photographs of People Who Left Peoples Temple, Box 51, Folder 18
    Sealed for the lifetimes of the subjects: Temple Member Biographies, Box 51, Folder 3 (Timothy Carter and Lee Ingram) "Jim and Marcie respond to John Stoen suit from Jonestown," Film Reel 01, Box 44 (Timothy Stoen and Grace Jones)

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    The Peoples Temple Publications Department Records were donated to the California Historical Society in 2010 by Tim and Jean (Brown) Clancey. The donors were members of Peoples Temple until its tragic end in 1978. Both had lived and worked at the San Francisco Temple headquarters. The collection mainly consists of materials used in the Temple Publications Department, which Tim Clancey managed. The collection was in their possession from the closing of Peoples Temple until it was gifted to CHS.

    Arrangement

    The records are arranged in six series, divided by format, with the audiovisual materials series further divided into moving images and sound recordings. The contents of the photographs, contact prints, and slides series are arranged in their original order as found within their original containers (except in the case of the Photographic Prints series, which has been rearranged by subject, and the Negatives series, which has been rearranged numerically). The containers themselves were not found in any particular order, and the order in which they appear on the finding aid should not be taken as canonical. Original titles were used wherever possible. The manuscripts series had no original order and was arranged by archival staff.
    The series and subseries arrangement of the records is as follows:

    Series 1: Contact prints, circa 1965-1978

    Series 2: Slides, 1967-1978

    Series 3: Negatives, circa 1965-1978

    Series 4: Manuscripts, ephemera, publications, and other materials, 1961-1978

    Series 5: Photographic Prints, circa 1965-1978

    Series 6: Audiovisual Recordings, 1972-1978, undated; further subdivided into Subseries 1: Moving Images, and Subseries 2: Sound Recordings

    Administrative History

    The Peoples Temple Publications Department was responsible for publicizing the Temple's activities, publishing the Peoples Forum newspaper (which was distributed by members on the street), releasing newsletters and calls for donations, keeping up contact with members and visitors, and maintaining a large photographic library.
    Donor Tim Clancey took over the Publications Department after the defection of its former head, Deanna Mertle. A candlemaker who joined the Temple along with his wife MaryLou and his close friends Tim and Terry Carter, Clancey retrained as a printer within the Temple and operated a print shop in Redwood Valley for both commercial and Temple use. In the mid-1970s, he and his shop moved to the San Francisco Temple. The Publications Department eventually grew to include several full-time staff: Bryan Kravitz, Don Jackson, graphic artists Kathy Barbour and Patti Chastain, typesetter Gloria Rodriguez, and teenage photographer Mike Rozynko. Professor and former journalist Dick Tropp edited the Peoples Forum itself. Although Jim Jones would suggest stories and give broad directives, he did not closely manage the department, and it was largely left to its own devices.
    The collection's other donor, Jean Brown Clancey, was not considered a member of the Publications Department, but she was involved in Temple communications. A former high school teacher, she moved to the San Francisco Temple in the mid-1970s to accept a job with the Housing Authority which had been offered to her by the new Moscone mayoral administration. She also wrote for the Peoples Forum and acted as a contact for the mainstream press.
    In its heyday, the Temple pursued a very ambitious program of political action: defending marginalized activists, getting out the vote for candidates, working with mainstream media, maintaining relationships with other churches within its denomination (the Disciples of Christ), recruitment trips across the country, letter-writing campaigns, radio appearances, marches, and alliance-building with celebrities and politicians. The Publications Department and its photographic library supported all of these activities, as well as the Temple's bureaucratic needs, such as passport and membership photographs.
    The Publications Department declined in scope and reach after several of its key staff were sent to Jonestown. Many of those who had distributed the Peoples Forum also left for Guyana, and by November 1978, department activity in San Francisco was very limited. Rodriguez, Rozynko, Tropp, and Jackson died in Jonestown, as did Tim Clancey's wife MaryLou and Tim Carter's sister Terry (Carter and Rodriguez had also since married). Tim Clancey and Jean Brown were married in 1979, survived the dissolution of the Temple together, and donated the Publications Department materials to the California Historical Society in 2010.

    General

    Audiovisual recordings formerly cataloged under the call number MS 3800.

    Technical Access

    Original analog copies of all audiovisual material are restricted. Use digitial access copies.

    Physical Access

    Photo negatives in Box 45 are restricted due to vinegar syndrome.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Peoples Temple Publications Department Records, MS 3791, California Historical Society

    Processing Information

    Processed by Isaac Fellman and Lynda Letona, 2018-2019, with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
    Materials were placed in new acid-free sleeves, folders, and boxes. Original caption information, when available, was transcribed onto negative sleeves; original titles of files were kept where possible, with archivists' own titles written in square brackets.

    Related Materials

    The Peoples Temple Publications Department records form part of the California Historical Society's Peoples Temple Collection, comprising over twenty collections of records, personal papers, photographs, audiovisual recordings, and artifacts documenting Peoples Temple and Jonestown.

    Scope and Contents

    The Peoples Temple Publications Department Records mainly consists of photographs created or collected by Peoples Temple members in order to support the Temple's public relations efforts, including the publication of the Peoples Forum newspaper. The collection includes approximately 53,500 black-and-white 35mm negative images; 3,500 color slides; 30,000 individual contact prints; and hundreds of photographic prints, representing over 56,000 unique images of Peoples Temple. Images extensively document Peoples Temple's activism, particularly during the critical years of 1976 to 1978. The collection contains a wealth of imagery depicting the demonstrations, rallies, and events organized by Peoples Temple in support of prominent public officials, activists, and organizations, including San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, California State Assemblyman Willie Brown, California Lieutenant Governor Mervyn Dymally (California's first Black state senator and lieutenant governor), Vice President Walter Mondale, Black Panther Party founder Huey P. Newton, radical activist and scholar Angela Davis, American Indian Movement founder Dennis Banks, and the Nation of Islam. These photographs illuminate the connections between Peoples Temple and local, regional, national, and international political and activist networks, situating the Peoples Temple movement within the 1970s context of urban politics, radical activism, communalism, internationalism, and Black Power.
    As Peoples Temple was building its political connections and influence in California, a small group of settlers was establishing a cooperative colony in Guyana called the Peoples Temple Agricultural Mission, later known as Jonestown. In response to the publication of an exposé of Temple abuses and other pressures, nearly one thousand Peoples Temple members immigrated to Jonestown in the summer of 1977. The Publications Department Records provide the most extensive visual documentation of Jonestown extant, from the settlement's establishment in 1974 to the penultimate days of 1978. Reflecting the public relations interests of the Publications Department, images of Jonestown present an interracial utopian agricultural society in the heart of the South American jungle. The new collection includes photographs of Jonestown residents of all ages, working, attending school, and participating in communal activities, as well as imagery of the site itself and construction of the settlement.
    In addition to photographs, the collection contains forty-three film and video recordings of Peoples Temple in the United States and Guyana, thirty-eight of which have been digitized and made available online via the Internet Archive as part of the California Audiovisual Preservation Project. These moving pictures poignantly capture daily life in Jonestown, including children's parades, work projects, and musical performances. Forty-nine sermons given by Jim Jones, previously digitized, have also been put online as part of the project.
    The Publications Department records also contain publications, ephemera, and manuscript material documenting Peoples Temple efforts to tighten control over public opinion amidst mounting concerns over abuse, child custody issues, and living conditions in Jonestown. These materials include the "Conspiracy Book," compiled by the Publications Department to document alleged media and government conspiracies against Peoples Temple, and statements written by public officials in support of the Temple. Other publications and ephemera, including meticulously organized mailers, illustrate Peoples Temple's evangelical roots and religious outreach to the African American community.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The California Historical Society (CHS) is the lawful owner of Peoples Temple documents and photographs, by orders of the California Superior Court and of the Guyana High Court. CHS is unaware of any other copyrights or other rights associated with this material. Reproduction or publication of materials in this collection beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of CHS. Please contact rights@calhist.org.

    Camera Use Policy

    The California Historical Society permits researchers to take photographs of materials from the Peoples Temple Publications Department Records for research and reference use only. All researchers must sign the Peoples Temple Collection Camera Use Agreement. Collection restrictions, copyright, and preservation needs determine if an item may be photographed. The library reserves the right to deny permission to photograph collection materials at its discretion. Photographs from the Peoples Temple Publications Department Records may not be photographed.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Jonestown (Guyana)
    Social movements -- California
    Demonstrations -- California
    Slides
    Negatives
    Contact prints
    Audiotapes
    Motion pictures
    Photographic prints
    Newspapers
    Direct mail
    Utopias
    Peoples Temple
    Jones, Jim, 1931-1978