This ad ran on Thursday, November 17, 1910 from St. Louis Post-Dispatch – years before anyone had heard of the Spanish flu, and didn’t reference any quarantine in particular. It only takes a little perusing of early-20th-century newspapers to realize that people were highly conscious of diphtheria, smallpox, spinal meningitis, and other highly contagious menaces. Localities often enforced quarantines; AT&T (and its much smaller competitors) saw a business opportunity.
“People who are in quarantine are not isolated if they have a Bell Telephone,” the ad helpfully pointed out. “The Bell Service brings cheer and encouragement to the sick, and is of value in countless other ways. Friends, whether close at hand or far away, can be easily reached, because Bell Service is universal service.”
(via Fast Company)