Help with 1910 census #usa #records

jill gluck

Hi JewishGen,
Here is my questions I would like to post:
On the 1910 Census, my great grandmother, recently widowed, housed her 3 children, a servant, a boarder and a lodger. What is the difference between a boarder and a lodger? (Questions #1)
Were servants often relatives from the Old Country? Should I start researching the servants???
Thank you!
Jill Gluck
MODERATOR NOTE: Please reply privately


Jill Gluck
West Hollywood, CA



The simple answer is yes, you should research Servants, boarders, Lodgers, roomers or however else a person might be designated on a census form in connection to a particular family.  The reason for this is based on the census instructions. This link provides the instructions. If you search on this page for "lodg" you'll find all references pertaining to this question.

It is good information for anyone using the census as a genealogical tool.
David Belton

Sherri Bobish

Hi Jill,

I just did a look up and a person listed with the family as a servant on one census was listed on the following census as sister-in-law.

So, yes sometimes a servant could be a relative, as could a lodger or boarder. Also consider that they could be a relative or possibly someone from the same shtetl.  In some of the shtetls everyone was a relative due to decades upon decades of inter-marriage between families in the shtetl.

Of course, a servant, lodger or boarder could also have no familial relation, but it can't hurt to look them up.  Try to find them on later census, naturalization records, passenger manifests.

Joel Weintraub

For questions like definitions of terms seen on census forms, the first place to look is the “Instructions to Enumerators”.  You can find the 1910 instructions at:  Boarders are “persons eating and sleeping at the same place”.   “On the other hand, transient boarders or lodgers, at hotels or elsewhere, should not be enumerated at their temporary rooming or lodging place unless it is practically certain that they will not be enumerated anywhere else.  This refers to persons rooming or lodging for a short time at a hotel or boarding or lodging house or with a private family while temporarily absent from their usual places of abode.” ... “But transient boarders or lodgers who have no permanent home or usual place of abode should be enumerated where they happen to be stopping a the time of the census.”  (paragraphs 53, 54, 55 of instructions)   Joel Weintraub, Dana Point, CA

Avast logo

This email has been checked for viruses by Avast antivirus software.

Joel Weintraub
Dana Point, CA

Ellen Barnett Cleary

A "Lodger" pays for use of a room only. A "Boarder" pays for a room and meals.
Ellen Barnett Cleary
San Francisco CA USA


Michele Lock

In my family tree, I have numerous instances in US censuses from the early 1900s, where the siblings of a wife were listed as boarders. It could appear at first that they are unrelated to either the husband or wife, if the maiden surname of the wife was unknown.

I've also occasionally seen where a cousin or brother-in-law is listed as a lodger or boarder. I have one instance in my tree where a widowed mother listed her three adult daughters as boarders.
Michele Lock

Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock and Kalon/Kolon in Zagare/Joniskis/Gruzdziai, Lithuania
Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock in Plunge/Telsiai in Lithuania
Rabinowitz in Papile, Lithuania and Riga, Latvia
Trisinsky/Trushinsky/Sturisky and Leybman in Dotnuva, Lithuania
Olitsky in Alytus, Suwalki, Poland/Lithuania
Gutman/Goodman in Czestochowa, Poland
Lavine/Lev/Lew in Trenton, New Jersey and Lida/Vilna gub., Belarus


It depends on the census taker and how they conducted the interview. Some of my "boarders" were in-laws, cousins, nephews, nieces. Keep an open mind and YES search for them as well. The "boarder" search sometimes gave me information my direct line did not, such as town of birth, naturalization papers, etc. Chances are, the boarder was someone know by the head of household or spouse and came from the same town or village.
Good luck to you and happy hunting!
Maryellen Tobiasiewicz
family from: Bielsko-Biala powiat Poland
Gorlice powiat Poland
Lviv Oblast Ukraine