Laura Johnston Kohl
Utopia Lost: Perspectives from
a Jonestown Survivor
Lecture: October 21, 2013, 7 p.m.
Willman Business Center, Weinstock Lecture Hall
When 914 members of Peoples Temple and four visiting Americans died in Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978, Laura Johnston Kohl survived. She was one of 87 who lived through the trauma. Kohl moved into Peoples Temple in California in 1970, and was an active and enthusiastic member until the day it ended. She moved to Guyana in March 1977. She frequently traveled between Georgetown and Jonestown, a 24-hour boat ride, but moved into Jonestown in early 1978. Her survival was a fluke. It took 20 years for Kohl to rebuild her life and have the determination to research this tragedy. She reunited with many of the other survivors to put the pieces together and to find some understanding. Today, Kohl is a teacher, a member of Read Local San Diego, on the Speakers' Bureau of The Jonestown Institute, a Quaker, and on the Board of the Communal Studies Association. She has been interviewed locally, nationally and internationally about Peoples Temple, and has been featured in a number of documentaries on Jonestown, including the PBS documentary Jonestown. Kohl is the author of numerous articles and scholarly papers, as well as a book, titled Jonestown Survivor: An Insider's Look.