Newspaper notices- a window into the past
Looking for an ancestor? Or land sales? Or would you like to know how people felt 100 years ago? Read the newspapers! And don’t limit yourself only to the main headings. Go to the ‘boring’, the ‘why bother flicking to the end’ and the ‘no one reads it anyway’ part – the notices. You will probably learn more about the past than from the headlines or editor’s comments. The Tribune published in Lahore gives account of the daily issues the locals were facing. And they were probably much more important than the latest news from Paris or New York.
The Punjab Mental Hospital wanted to outsource the delivery of milk from 1 April 1926 to 31 March 1927. The required five maunds had to be as fresh as possible, so the cows of the successful applicant had to be kept in accommodation provided on the Hospital premises. It was clearly a buyers’ market, as the Medical Superintendent Captain T. H. Thomas wanted a deposit of 1000 rupees and milk tests to be conducted daily. He retained the right to reject any applicant without giving a reason.
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The Swasthya Sahaya Pharmacy at Alipore was giving away freebies. Anyone interested in Sexual Science by Rai Sahib Dr Dass (sic) could just drop by. The Huston Brothers went even further and their booklet Life after Death was for those who lost their manhood ‘through follies, abuses and excesses’. This scientific remedy brought domestic happiness without any drugs or medicines.
Equipped with the booklet a man, now fully assured, could check the matrimonial notices. A girl from a Khatri family, well-educated and well-versed in household work, was just looking for a suitable husband. Girls and their families could also find a match in the local paper. A ‘robust young Saraswat Brahmin’ with a permanent commission in the Indian Army was available. It was not that easy though – an interview was absolutely essential. Want more choice? The Lahore Hindu Marriage Bureau had suitable candidates for a spouse – a fifteen year old daughter of a Rai Sahib; a seventeen year old daughter of a retired shopkeeper; a bachelor with an income of 1000 rupees and property of five laks; or a handsome chap who just returned from England.
In April 1926 Godar Mall, a clerk at the Arsenal at Rawalpindi ,changed his name to Gian Parkash. He wanted to inform his relatives and friends that from now on they should address him this way.
Ghulam Mustfa of Bhera announced that Nazool land will be sold on public auction on 17 February 1926 at the Rest House at Bhera.
C. H. Rice of the Forman Christian College had an unclaimed bicycle. Want it back? Show the proper documents!
The most interesting notice I need to quote in full:
The General Public is hereby informed that my son Mahla Ram, since over a year and a half has become a vagabond and do not consider him to be a fit person to live in my house. He has no connection whatever with me and with self-acquired property, etc. Those dealing with him will do so at their own risk and I will in no way be accountable nor will my property be. Mahla Ram will be responsible for his own doings and dealings personally. Signed Buta Ram.
The Tribune, January to April 1926, shelfmark SM 13