The Archive traces the journey of the people from the Punjab to the other Land of Five Rivers in the Sacramento Valley.
All of the Punjabis featured in this archive are Sikhs from farming backgrounds. The Punjab is composed of regions called “doabs,” which refers to the land that lies between two rivers (in Punjabi, do=two and ab=water or river). The land between the Beas and Sutlej Rivers is called the “Doaba” region and it contains the Jullundur district. The Doaba region is significant in the history of the Sikh diaspora. This area faced intense population and land pressures after the Annexation of the Punjab by the British in 1849; many young men from this district left for better opportunities abroad beginning in the late nineteenth century. Many people featured in this Archive, including the Johl family, come from the same native village in the Jalandhar (formerly Jullunder) district in the Punjab.
Before the 1947 Partition, the families of Professor Hari Singh Everest and Dr Jasbir Singh Kang lived in the Lyallpur district located between the Ravi and Chenab Rivers. The district was named after and Englishman, Sir James Lyall, who was a former Governor of the Punjab. The Sikhs who lived in this area were forced to flee their homes for safety in India after the 1947 Partition. The Lyallpur district has been renamed Faislabad and is located today in the country of Pakistan.
The last names of the people featured in the Archive typically reflect their family origins in native villages in the Punjab (Johl, Kang, Bains, etc.). In Sikh naming conventions, the first name is personal, the middle name reflects belonging in the Sikh community (Singh means lion and Kaur means princess), and the last name reflects the person’s native village. For instance, the prominent peach farmer’s name, Didar Singh Bains, reflects his personal name (which roughly translates to “visionary”), Singh (shows his belonging to the Sikh faith and community), and Bains (reflects the family’s origins in the Hoshiarpur district in the Punjab).
Within the Sacramento Valley, Punjabis settled in Sutter County on various ranches, including the farm owned by the Wilbur family.
Punjabi farm workers worked on the George Pierce, Jr, farm on La Rue Avenue located just west of the city of Davis along Putah Creek in southern Yolo County.