Become a WTTW11 member now!

Featured Clip

American Experience: Jonestown

American Experience: Jonestown –
The Life and Death of Peoples Temple

On November 17, 1978, Congressman Leo Ryan traveled to an isolated rainforest in Guyana to investigate the concerns of his San Francisco-area constituents. Their alarming stories focused on a jungle compound known as Jonestown, a group called the Peoples Temple and its leader, Jim Jones. According to news filtering back to America, U.S. citizens were being held against their will in prison camp conditions. There were allegations of physical and sexual abuse and even rumors of a planned mass suicide. Congressman Ryan, an impassioned human rights advocate, decided to get the facts for himself.

Within 48 hours, Ryan, Jones and more than 900 Jonestown settlers were dead – casualties of the largest mass murder-suicide in history. In the next few days, grisly details of cyanide-laced fruit punch and disturbing images of children poisoned by their parents emerged from the jungle.

American Experience goes beyond the salacious headlines to provide a revealing portrait of Jones, his followers and the times that produced the calamity in the Guyanese jungle, told by the people who know the story firsthand: Jonestown survivors, Temple defectors, relatives of the dead and journalists.

 Watch clips:
Small | Large


Get QuickTime

Past Featured Clips

View Past Featured Clips!

Featured Clip - Jonestown - SmallFeatured Clip - Jonestown - LargeFeatured Clip - Check, Please! Kids: Behind the ScenesFeatured Clip - African American LivesFeatured Clip - Monty Python's Personal BestFeatured Clip - Wrigley Field: Beyond The IvyFeatured Clip - Texas Ranch HouseFeatured Clip - Golden Apple Teacher AwardFeatured Clip - A Lion in the HouseFeatured Clip - Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean AdventuresFeatured Clip - Northwest of Chicago with Geoffrey BaerFeatured Clip - Fall Schedule 2006Featured Clip - Beauty RisesFeatured Clip - Grannies on SafariFeatured Clip - Electric Company's Greatest Hits and BitsFeatured Clip - The Marshall Field's Christmas WindowsFeatured Clip - The Second CityFeatured Clip - Friday Night with John CallawayFeatured Clip - Oprah's Roots: An African American Lives SpecialFeatured Clip - America's Ballroom ChallengeFeatured Clip - 2006 WTTW11 Viewer's Choice AwardsFeatured Clip - Hello Again EverybodyFeatured Clip - American Experience: JonestownFeatured Clip - Doctor WhoFeatured Clip - The WarFeatured Clip - And They Came to Chicago: An Italian American LegacyFeatured Clip - Singer’s Spotlight with Ann Hampton CallawayFeatured Clip - NOVA: Judgment DayFeatured Clip - Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar FestivalFeatured Clip - Pioneers of TelevisionFeatured Clip - The Ride of Our LivesFeatured Clip - Bon JoviFeatured Clip - Memorial Day CelebrationFeatured Clip - Out & Proud in ChicagoFeatured Clip - Bon JoviFeatured Clip - Debating Our Destiny IIFeatured Clip - Lincoln MinutesFeatured Clip - PBS: We BelieveFeatured Clip - Dan Schmidt, President and CEOPast Featured ClipsFeatured Clip - Check, Please! KidsFeatured Clip - Bob DylanHi SpeedLo SpeedContact UsSite MapPressroomWTTW Digital ArchivesProduction ServicesCorporate SponsorshipHomeSchedulesProgramsWTTW KidsWTTW ArtsWTTW EventsSupport WTTWAbout UsMembers OnlyGeoffrey Baer Tours - Seven Wonders of ChicagoArchitect Robert A.M. Stern: Presence of the PastArchitect Michael Graves: A Grand TourArchitect Thomas Beeby10 Buildings that Changed AmericaCatholicismProhibitionAmerican Graduate