The Last Month at Jonestown – November 1978: The Documents

At a small compound of Americans in the jungles of northwestern Guyana, November 1978 was an intense month preparation and negotiation for the upcoming visit of a Leo Ryan, a congressman from California, and his entourage of concerned family members and opponents of the Jonestown project. Below is a chronological list of documents – memos, audio recordings, and videos – of the last month at Jonestown.


October – A Memo from Sharon Amos on “The Campaign against Peoples Temple”

Transcript  ||  Annotation  ||  RYMUR 89-4286-1894

November 1 – Leo Ryan sends a telegram to Jim Jones expressing an interest in visiting Jonestown

Transcript  ||  Annotation  || RYMUR 89-4286-AA-1-K-1

November 3 – Jim Jones reads and interprets the news for the community

Q 322 – Transcript  ||  Annotation  ||  Q 322 (mp3)


November 5 – US Embassy in Georgetown representative Burke writes letter to State Department about negotiations with Jonestown regarding Ryan visit

Transcript  ||  Annotation  ||  National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780457–0244

November 5 – Annie Moore writes a memo to Jones that a member had been poisoning Jones’ drinks

Transcript  ||  Annotation  ||  RYMUR 89-4286-N1-A43  ||  Discussions at Alternative Considerations

November 6 – Mark Lane, a Temple lawyer, responds to Leo Ryan’s letter and writes another letter to Richard McCoy, the US State Department Desk Officer in Guyana

Lane to Ryan – Transcript || Annotation  ||  RYMUR 89-4286-AA-1-I-1

Lane to McCoy – Transcript || Annotation  ||  RYMUR 89-4286-AA-1-I-5

November 6 – Jim Jones reads and interprets the news for the community

Q 169 – Transcript  ||  Annotation  ||  Q 169 (access to mp3)

Fact Sheet on Ryan – Transcript  ||  Annotation  ||  RYMUR 89-4286-E-3-A-2

November 6 – Jim Jones gives instructions to clean up Jonestown for a visit

Q 234 – Transcript  ||  Annotation  ||  Q 234

November 8 – Jim Jones announces the impending visit by Leo Ryan to the community

Q 175 – Transcript ||  Annotation  ||  Q175

Richard Tropp’s Memo on the Visit – Transcript  ||  Annotation  || RYMUR 89-4286-AA-1-x-1

November 9 – Peoples Temple community signs a petition to block Ryan’s visit

RYMUR 89-4286-571 – Transcript  ||  Annotation  ||  RYMUR 89-4286-571

November 10 – Leo Ryan writes a confrontational response to Mark Lane declaring his intention to visit in spite of Lane’s arguments

Ryan to Lane – Transcript || Annotation  ||  RYMUR 89-4286-AA-1-F-3-5

November 10 – Jim Jones leads a “Peoples Rally” to discuss Ryan’s visit

Q 313 – Transcript  ||  Annotation  ||  Q 313 (mp3)

November 11 – Charles Garry, the Temple’s lawyer in San Francisco, calls the Temple there to protest Mark Lane’s involvement and threatens to quit

Q 708 – Transcript  ||  Annotation  ||  Q708 (mp3)

November 13 – As a last effort to prevent Ryan’s visit, leaders make a formal statement of opposition

PT Statement – Transcript  ||  Annotation  ||  RYMUR 89-4286-1894


November 16 – Jim Jones leads a “Peoples Rally” to discuss Ryan’s visit in two days

Q 050 – Transcript  ||  Annotation  || Q 050 (access to mp3)

November 17 – Leo Ryan addresses the Jonestown community during his visit

Q 048 – Transcript  ||  Annotation  ||  Q 048 (mp3)

November 18 – Recording of a brief interview with Patty and Judy Houston

Q 039 – Transcript  ||  Annotation  || Q 039 (mp3)

November 18 (afternoon) – Recording of phone calls with US Embassy

Q 1289 – Transcript  ||  Annotation  ||  Q1289 (mp3)

November 18 (evening) – US Embassy tries to understand coded messages as the deaths begin

Q 1290 – Transcript  ||  Annotation  ||  Q1290 (mp3)

November 18 (evening) – Jones addresses the community as the deaths at Jonestown begin

Q 042 – Transcript  ||  Annotation  ||  Q 042 (mp3)

November 18 – Richard Tropp’s Last Letter regarding Jonestown

Transcript  ||  Annotation  || RYMUR 89-4286-X-1-a-54