Thursday, September 30, 2010

CHS Digitization Project: Peoples Temple Photographs

Peoples Temple children, Jonestown, Guyana. c.1977-1978
Photographs of Peoples Temple in the United States and Guyana,
PC 010.07.0778, California Historical Society.

The California Historical Society (CHS) has just completed a project to digitize 200 images from their collection of Photographs of the Peoples Temple in the United States and Jonestown, Guyana. The project was funded by a California Local History Digital Resources Program (LHDRP) grant, supported by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. These images are now available online through the Online Archive of California at and through Calisphere at, both public projects of the California Digital Library. These digital images represent a sampling of images from a larger collection of over 1200 slides of the membership of Peoples Temple, spanning from the early days of the church in Redwood Valley, California to the construction and cultivation of Jonestown.

The community of Peoples Temple survivors was instrumental in assisting CHS on the project, and was able to supply the names of many previously unidentified members, date many of the images, and resolve identifications that were disputed. Their generous work as volunteers has made an enormous impact, and all of us at CHS would like to thank them for their efforts; their contribution will assist researchers and the families of the deceased for the life of the collection. The names that were provided form part of the information available online with the digital images, and allow for searching the photographs by individual, in addition to geographic location or subject.

The Peoples Temple Collection at the California Historical Society continues to draw visitors from around the world to do research for films, books, and articles as we make more information about the holdings of CHS available online. The collection also continues to grow, thanks to donations from former members of Peoples Temple. CHS holds the bulk of materials relating to Peoples Temple and the events that surrounded the November 18, 1978 tragedy in Jonestown, Guyana. Comprised of over 25 related collections, the Peoples Temple Collection includes organizational records from Peoples Temple, personal papers of former members, survivors and their families, researchers, and government agencies. The materials in the collection include correspondence, organizational documents, artifacts, legal documents, audiotapes, slides and photographs, along with a wide array of published materials.

Tanya Hollis

Archivist/Manuscripts Librarian
California Historical Society
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