The California Historical Society is pleased to announce that 4,467 slides and negatives from the Peoples Temple Publications Department Records have been digitized and are available for public viewing and research online. The photographs provide new visual documentation of Peoples Temple’s political, religious, and cultural activities, as well as daily life in Redwood Valley, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Jonestown. This work was made possible by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). The collection was processed by project archivists Isaac Fellman and Lynda Letona and digitized by Two Cat Digital of San Anselmo.
The Peoples Temple Publications Department Records contain a wealth of imagery depicting the demonstrations, rallies, and events organized by Peoples Temple. Before the mass migration to Jonestown in 1977, the Temple pursued an ambitious program of political action: defending leftist activists, getting out the vote for candidates for local office, working with mainstream media, maintaining relationships with other faith organizations, organizing cross-country recruitment trips, participating in rallies and demonstrations, and building alliances with celebrities and politicians. Photographs in the collection were taken by the Publications Department to support these activities.
Newly digitized photographs reveal 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. We hope that the online publication of these images will support a new generation of scholarship on Peoples Temple and Jonestown.
Written by Marie Silva & Isaac Fellman, California Historical Society.