Jonestown

Jones, Jim

Jim Jones, 1931–78, American religious leader, b. Lynn, Indiana. An influential Indianapolis preacher from the 1950s and onetime head of the city's Human Rights Commission, Jones formed the racially integrated People's Temple (1955), which he eventually moved to Ukiah, Calif. (1967), and then San Francisco (1971). In 1976 he was appointed head of the San Francisco Housing Authority, but the following year, after he became the subject of criminal investigations, particularly regarding alleged diversion of church donations to his personal use, Jones and about 1,000 followers relocated to a commune (Jonestown) that he established in Guyana. In Nov., 1978, U.S. Congressman Leo J. Ryan and four others were killed by cult members as they were leaving after an investigatory visit. The following day, Jones orchestrated the mass suicide of 912 followers, who were compelled to drink cyanide-laced punch. Jones died the same day of a bullet wound to the head.

See studies by K. Levi, ed. (1982), J. M. Weightman (1984), D. Chidester (1988), and J. Scheeres (2011).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Jonestown: Selected full-text books and articles

Hearing the Voices of Jonestown By Mary McCormick Maaga Syracuse University Press, 1998
Apocalypse Observed: Religious Movements and Violence in North America, Europe, and Japan By John R. Hall; Philip D. Schuyler; Sylvaine Trinh Routledge, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "From Jonestown to Waco"
Violence and New Religious Movements By James R. Lewis Oxford University Press, 2011
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Narratives of Persecution, Suffering, and Martyrdom: Violence in Peoples Temple and Jonestown"
American Ambassadors in a Troubled World: Interviews with Senior Diplomats By Dayton Mak; Charles Stuart Kennedy Greenwood Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "The Jonestown Affair: Guyana, 1978"
Omens and Oracles: Collective Psychology in the Nuclear Age By Jerry Kroth Praeger Publishers, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Recapitulating Jonestown"
New Religions as Global Cultures: Making the Human Sacred By Irving Hexham; Karla Poewe Westview Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Jonestown and the Case against New Religions" begins on p. 12
Path to Collective Madness: A Study in Social Order and Political Pathology By Dipak K. Gupta Praeger, 2001
Librarian’s tip: "Jonestown: The Temple of Doom" begins on p. 169
Cults: Faith, Healing, and Coercion By Marc Galanter Oxford University Press, 1990
Librarian’s tip: "Jonestown" begins on p. 119
Odd Gods: New Religions and the Cult Controversy By James R. Lewis Prometheus Books, 2001
Librarian’s tip: "People's Temple" begins on p. 164
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