Ye Olde Student Life: TSL Ads Through The Ages

Circa 1934, TSL frequently filled extra space in the paper with these notices peer pressuring readers.

Capitalism has been a constant throughout TSL’s history, but marketing has come quite a long way over the years, and consumer tastes have changed more than a little. This semester, we’ve taken a look back at TSL ads through the ages. Here is the full collection.


Let’s all take a moment and be thankful for the advances in textiles since this ad ran in the 1920s.




An old newspaper ad about a pen
The promise of advertising has always been that if you just spend more money, you can buy your way out of whatever plight you are facing. In 1937, it seems the Parker Pen Company (makers of Quink!) expected some students to pay $130 to $170 in today’s dollars for the latest in pen technology. Life was tough before the ballpoint.


An old newspaper ad
Corporal punishment was a thing in 1937. And apparently you could make money off of it.

Police radio doesn’t exactly strike me as techno-wizardry, but apparently it was an impressive innovation when this ad ran in 1937.


An advertisement from the Railway Express Agency, with the title, "Freshman Luggage and Laundry Problem — Solved!" in capital letters.
The predecessor to 5C laundry — featured in this ad from TSL’s Sept. 3, 1940 issue — was slightly less convenient.

The message is clear in this ad from TSL’s Sept. 3, 1940 issue, but the prudish norms of the era prohibited even spelling out the words “sex appeal.” And, of course, the gender politics are … less than progressive. Needless to say, the world was not yet ready for TSL’s sex column, which wouldn’t first appear until the early 2000s.

Cigarette ads used to appear in every single issue of TSL. Every. Single. Issue. Including this one from Sept. 24, 1940. Disclaimer: TSL’s editors in 2018 do not encourage turning your lungs into a black charred soup.
The world’s most prominent branded sugar water company was hard at work defeating the Nazis in 1944. ’Murica!

Don’t get fooled by the copycat streaking stickers — this one, from TSL’s April 29, 1974 issue, is the “first and original.”

An advertisement for a sticker
Don’t get fooled by the copycat streaking stickers — this one, from TSL’s April 29, 1974 issue, is the “first and original.”

If you’d like to search for ads in TSL’s archives yourself, you can find instructions for accessing them here. If you’d like to becomes TSL’s next Ye Olde Student Life columnist, please send an email to expressing your interest.

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