Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Hunter, B. mss., ca. 1962-1979, consist of correspondence, notes, clippings, etc. of Jim Jones, 1931-1978, and of Barton Hunter, 1908-1988, relating to People's Temple Christian Church of Indianapolis, Indiana and to Jones's Christian missions in South America.

Born James Warren Jones, May 13, 1931 in Crete, Indiana, Jones went to high school in Richmond, Indiana, graduating in January 1949. He entered Indiana University immediately following graduation, married Marceline Baldwin in June 1949 and then moved to Indianapolis in 1950 where he sporadically attended Butler University, receiving a B.Ed in 1961. Jones opened Indianapolis's first biracial church in 1954 and renamed it People's Temple the following year. In 1960 the Temple joined the Disciples of Christ. In 1961 he became director of the Indianapolis Human Relations Commission then spent the next two years on a mission in Brazil. In 1965 he moved with about fifty of his followers to Redwood City, California, and opened branches of the Temple in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In 1974 the Temple leased more than 3,000 acres of Guyana jungle and members began clearing the land for agriculture and the building of Jonestown. Four years later Jones demanded that his followers commit mass suicide by drinking grape-flavored poison and then apparently shot himself, November 18, 1978.

Barton Hunter was an executive of the Church in Society, one of the sections of the Disciples of Christ Christian Church in Indianapolis when he first met Jim Jones in 1955.

The letters from Jones to Hunter are all from the period of time when he was on mission in Brazil. Other letters present are from other church members either to Jones or to Hunter, while the clippings relate to Jones's various "ministries," to the deaths in Guyana, and to the appeal of cults.

A folder list is available.

Gift. 2000


  • Folder 1: Correspondence, 1962. Letters from Jim Jones to Rev. Dr. Barton Hunter:
    • 1962, June 20. A.L.S. 18p. enclosing a 2 cruzeiros note of Brazilian currency. accompanied by envelope
    • 1962, July 15. A.L.S. 6p. enclosing a 10 cruzeiros note of Brazilian currency and eight (7 cent) U.S. airmail postage stamps. accompanied by envelope
    • 1962, [Aug] A.L.S. 14p. enclosing a 5 cruzeiros note of Brazilian currency. first page stamped: received Aug. 11, 1962
  • Folder 2: Correspondence and notes, 1971-1978:
    • [1971, Dec. 9] Pastor Oscar Hill, St. Jude Missionary Baptist Church, Indianapolis IN. To Pastor Jones, People's Temple, Indianapolis, IN. A.L.S. 4p. date from accompanying envelope
    • 1971, Dec. 12. Timothy O. Stoen, Ukiah, CA. To Dr. Barton Hunter, Indianapolis IN. A.L.S. 1p.
    • 1971, Dec. 12. The Indianapolis Star, p.14, sec. 2. "State Psychology Board to Eye 'Prophet' Jones"
    • 1972, Feb. 8. receipt of funds for use of People's Temple Building for January meeting
    • 1972. various notes re: telephone calls
    • 1978, Nov. 20. Pablo Stone, Managua, Nicaragua. To Dr. Robert A. Thomas, Indianapolis, IN T.L.S. 2p. (copy to Dorothy and Barton Hunter)
    • 1978, Dec. 12. Dorothy Hunter. To Pablo Stone, Managua, Nicaragua. T(carbon)L. 2p.
  • Folder 3: Clippings, etc., 1971-1979. Re: Jim Jones, the People's Temple of Guyana, the cult deaths, an interview with Barton Hunter about his relationship with Jones in the 1950s and 60s, etc.

Collection size: 27 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.