[help] American social history

My dad is doing some historical/genealogical research on our family, and is stumped by an item from the 1910 U.S. Census. He’s hoping someone out here in the blogosphere can shed some light. So far his Google fu has been inadequate.

Dad says:

Two men in their 40’s living together at time of 1910 census in New York. Both employed as silk finishers in a silk mill.

One is listed as head of household and single. He apparently remained single for his whole life.

The other is listed as “partner” and married – having been married 20 years.

Anyone understand the use of the term partner in the 1910 census?


3 thoughts on “[help] American social history

  1. EC says:

    Mr. Lake, Sr., has probably already found the links below in his Googling. Can anyone provide any info beyond this?

    Someone else had a similar question at


    Genealogy blogger Dick Eastman found this
    105. If two or more persons share a common abode as partners, write head for one and partner for the other or others. 

    in the “Name and Relation” section of the instructions for census takers for 1910 at


    Here is that section, for context.


    100. Column 3. Name of each person enumerated.—Enter the name of every person whose usual place of abode on April 15, 1910, was with the family or in the dwelling place for which the enumeration is being made. In determining who is to be included with the family, follow instructions in paragraphs 95 to 99. (See also paragraphs 47, 48, and 49.) 

    101. Order of entering names.—Enter the members of each family in the following order, namely: Head first, wife second, then children (whether sons or daughters) in the order of their ages, and lastly, all other persons living with the family, whether relatives, boarders, lodgers, or servants. 

    102. How names are to be written.—Enter first the last name or surname, then the given name in full, and the initial of the middle name, if any. Where the surname is the same as that of the person in the preceding line do not repeat the name, but draw a horizontal line (—) under the name above, as shown in the illustrative example. 

    103. Column 4. Relationship to head of family.—Designate the head of the family, whether husband or father, widow, or unmarried person of either sex, by the word “Head;” for other members of a family writewife, father, mother, son, daughter, grandson, daughter-in-law, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, boarder, lodger, servant, etc., according to the particular relationship which the person bears to the head of the family. 

    104. Occupants of an institution or school, living under a common roof, should be designated as officer, inmate, pupil, patient, prisoner, etc.; and in the case of the chief officer his title should be used, aswarden, principal, superintendent, etc., instead of the word “Head.” 

    105. If two or more persons share a common abode as partners, write head for one and partner for the other or others. 

    106. In the case of a hotel or boarding or lodging house family (see paragraph 97), the head of the family is the manager or the person who keeps the hotel or boarding or lodging house. 

  2. Hmm… based on above, it seems ‘partner’ meant common ownership – the more literal meaning of the word. This is consistent with (one nuance of) the origin of the word (Old French) ‘part tenour’, means ‘part owner’.

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