Singer, Margaret Thaler

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Margaret T. Singer (1921-2003) was a clinical psychologist and emeritus adjunct professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. She was widely known for her research, publications and media appearances related to cults, brainwashing, and persuasion, and was an expert witness in numerous legal cases and congressional hearings including those involving U.S. soldiers captured during the Korean War, Patricia Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Unification Church, and Peoples Temple. She is the author of Cults in our midst.

Peoples Temple began as an independent Pentecostal church founded by Jim and Marceline Jones in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1955 and became affiliated with the Disciples of Christ denomination in 1960. In 1965, the church moved to Northern California with approximately a hundred members. In 1970, Peoples Temple began holding services and recruiting thousands of members from African American communities in San Francisco and Los Angeles and later opened large churches in both cities. In 1973, the church initiated plans for an agricultural and rural development mission in Guyana, South America that became known as Jonestown. In 1977, media coverage of Peoples Temple practices and political activities led the government to investigate the church's financial and social welfare programs. That same year, members began to relocate to Jonestown, and by 1978 over 1000 resided there. In November 1978, responding to claims of mistreatment of members in Jonestown, Rep. Leo Ryan, accompanied by a small group, went to Guyana to survey the conditions. During the visit, 17 members chose to leave with Ryan. On November 18, when boarding their planes, they were shot by Peoples Temple members, killing Ryan, three journalists, and a Peoples Temple member. Later that same day, over 900 members of Peoples Temple died in Jonestown of cyanide poisoning. Survivors included eighty members in Guyana and hundreds of members in the U.S, many in California. In 1983, Peoples Temple was dissolved and its records were deposited at the California Historical Society.

From the description of Photographs from Margaret T. Singer materials on Peoples Temple, 1970-1978. (California Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 262559613

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Singer, Margaret Thaler. Photographs from Margaret T. Singer materials on Peoples Temple, 1970-1978. California Historical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Jones, Jim, 1931-1978 person
associatedWith Peoples Temple corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Jonestown (Guyana)


Birth 1921-07-29

Death 2003-11-23



Ark ID: w61335r7

SNAC ID: 17863763