As mentioned in the previous week, the 1850 US census started requiring the recording of every household members name on the population schedule. Since 1880 the US census has also required the question of how everyone is the household is related to the head of each household.
This is one of the most important questions on the census for identifying correct households. It’s also helpful with identifying how individuals who aren’t immediate family members are related. This can be especially helpful during periods when the families were struggling financially. The Great Depression is an example of this when many extended family members and sometimes friends were living in the same household to conserve money.
Don’t forget about individuals labeled as “boarders.” Boarders may not be related, but could be friends or individuals who may have other non-family connections with the family such as an old neighbor or church member. Don’t discount that an unrelated “border” in one of your researched households is not related or won’t be related to someone in your family. I’ve found examples of borders (brothers) living with one household related to the wife in another related family household.