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Guide to the Moore Family Papers, 1968-1988
MS 3802  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Collections
  • Separated Materials

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Moore Family Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1968-1988
    Collection number: MS 3802
    Creator: Moore Family
    Extent: 28 boxes

    14.5 linear ft.
    Repository: California Historical Society, North Baker Library
    San Francisco, California 94105-4014
    Abstract: The collection consists of letters, journals, typescripts, government documents and microfiche, research materials, and ephemera related to the Moore family's investigations into the deaths in Guyana on November 18, 1978, which included three family members and California Congressman Leo J. Ryan. The family correspondence includes letters written from Jonestown by Carolyn Moore Layton and Ann Moore that describe daily life in the agricultural community in Guyana, their relationships with Jim Jones, and their growing concern about negative reports in the U.S. media. The collection also contains correspondence with other members of Peoples Temple, including Larry Layton, husband of Carolyn Moore from 1967-1969, and former Temple spokesperson Michael Prokes. Research materials contain information about the Peoples Temple organization, history, supporters and detractors, including the Concerned Relatives and Citizens Committee, and newspaper articles on the Peoples Temple and Jonestown. A substantial portion of the collection consists of documents released by U.S. government agencies in response to numerous Freedom of Information Act requests and two lawsuits filed by the Moores along with the reports of private investigator John Hanrahan hired by the Moores to interview government officials. The collection includes the Moores' published materials and interviews by the media.
    Physical location: Please consult repository.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to California Historical Society. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Research Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    Moore Family Papers. MS 3802, California Historical Society, Manuscript Collection.

    Acquisition Information

    The Moore Family Papers were donated to the California Historical Society in July 1989.


    The members of the Moore family are Carolyn, Rebecca, and Ann; their parents, John and Barbara; Carolyn's son, Kimo, and Rebecca's husband, Fielding McGehee III. On November 18, 1978, Carolyn, Kimo, and Ann died in the Peoples Temple's murder-suicide ritual in Jonestown, Guyana.
    Carolyn Moore Layton (1945-1978), the eldest sister, was a high school history teacher. She and her husband, Larry Layton, joined the Peoples Temple in 1968; they divorced in 1970. Carolyn became a member of the leadership circle and had significant financial responsibilities for the organization. In 1975, Carolyn gave birth to a son, Kimo Layton Prokes (1975-1978), also known as Jim-John, who was fathered by Jim Jones, leader of the Peoples Temple. She and Kimo moved to Jonestown, Guyana in the spring of 1977. Carolyn's death at 33 years old was attributed to cyanide poisoning used in the murder-suicide ritual. Kimo's remains were not identified.
    Ann Elizabeth Moore (1954-1978), the youngest of the three sisters, was a nurse. She joined the Peoples Temple in 1972. After she moved to Guyana in May 1977, she became Jones' personal nurse. At the time of her death, she was 24 years old. Ann and Jim Jones were the only two people in the Jonestown settlement who died from gunshot wounds.
    Rebecca Moore, Ph.D., a journalist with her doctorate in Religious Studies, teaches at San Diego State University. The Rev. John V. Moore is a retired United Methodist minister in the California-Nevada Annual Conference; his wife, Barbara, is an active community volunteer. Fielding McGehee III is a writer and editor.
    For more information about the Moore Family during this period, see Rebecca Moore's A Sympathetic History of Jonestown: The Moore Family Involvement in Peoples Temple (Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1985).

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Moore Family Papers document the involvement of family members with the Peoples Temple from 1968 to 1988. While letters written from Jonestown, Guyana by the Moore daughters, Carolyn and Ann, form a significant part of the family correspondence, the bulk of the collection was generated after the mass murder-suicides in Guyana on November 18, 1978. Assembled by family members after the 10th anniversary of the tragedy, the collection focuses on their efforts from 1978 to 1988 to investigate and publicize the circumstances that led to the deaths of their relatives and 916 other adults and children in Guyana. The collection consists of letters, manuscripts, government documents, research materials, photographs, audiotapes, books, and ephemera.
    Correspondence between members of the Moore family reveals Carolyn and Ann's increasing commitment to their work for the Peoples Temple. Carolyn's letters in particular describe daily life in Jonestown and the community's growing concern and reactions to negative reports in the media. Ann's letters provide glimpses of her thoughts about her decision to join the Temple and her work as a nursing student in San Francisco hospitals and later in Jonestown. A statement she wrote about committing suicide is considered one of the last messages from Jonestown.
    The letters, sermons, and essays that comprise the personal papers of the Rev. John V. and Barbara Moore provide insight into the family's involvement and dedication to social justice issues. Published statements about their visit to Jonestown in May 1978 document their experience of the settlement and their attempts to gain media coverage of their impressions. The Moores' correspondence with other members of Peoples Temple and their families reveals their personal commitment to providing consolation and to continuing their investigations of the tragedy.
    The work of Dr. Rebecca Moore and Fielding McGehee III on the Peoples Temple and Jonestown produced a scholarly history, as well as a large body of legal documents and papers related to numerous Freedom of Information Act requests. Their papers provide a unique view of the U.S. Government's changing responses over a ten-year span to the provisions of The Privacy Act of 1974.
    The Moore Family Papers are divided into three series: Series 1: Family Correspondence and Personal Papers; Series 2: Peoples Temple Related Materials; Series 3: U.S. Government and Legal Documents. Materials are organized as the family collected and documented their research that became the basis for their publications and ongoing investigations of the events that led to the deaths in Guyana.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Peoples Temple
    Jones, Jim, 1931-1978
    Moore family
    Moore, Ann Elizabeth
    Layton, Carolyn Moore
    Ryan, Leo J.--Assassination
    Moore, John V., Rev.
    Moore, Barbara
    Layton, Larry
    Concerned Relatives and Citizens Committee.
    United States. Freedom of Information Act.
    United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation--Trials, litigation, etc.
    United States. Central Intelligence Agency--Trials, litigation, etc.
    Jonestown Mass Suicide, Jonestown, Guyana, 1978.

    Other Index Terms Related to this Collection

    Moore, Ann Elizabeth
    Layton, Carolyn Moore
    Moore, Rebecca, 1951-
    Moore, Rebecca, 1951--Sympathetic history of Jonestown
    Moore, Rebecca, 1951--In defense of Peoples Temple and other essays
    Moore, Rebecca, 1951--Jonestown letters: correspondence of the Moore family, 1970-1985
    Moore, John V., Rev.
    Moore, Barbara
    McGehee, Fielding M. 1949-
    Layton, Larry
    Prokes, Michael
    Hanrahan, John
    United States. Dept. of Justice
    United States. Dept. of State
    United States. Social Security Administration
    United States. Internal Revenue Service
    United States. Bureau of Customs
    United States. Federal Communications Commission

    Related Collections

    The California Historical Society holds several collections related to the Peoples Temple:
    • MS 3800, Peoples Temple Records,
      Date (inclusive): 1941-1983
    • MS 3801, FBI Papers from Jonestown,
      Date (inclusive): 1972-1978
    • MS 3803, John R. Hall Research Materials,
      Date (inclusive): 1978-1987
    • MS 4062, Ross E. Case Papers,
      Date (inclusive): 1961-1984

    Separated Materials

    Photographs shelved as MSP 3802.