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Many genealogies of Bern canton families have been researched by the genealogist Julius Billeter. Nearly 2 million people will be found in his works.


Julius Billeter 1869 - 1957

Julius Billeter began his career as a genealogical researcher in 1896. He remained in Switzerland gathering names from the records for one year. He obtained moneys and subscriptions from people to fund his research activities. It was reported that he gathered 100,000 names in that first year. It took him the following year to prepare the names for temple work. In 1898 he was appointed a research agent for the Genealogical Society of Utah for Germany and Switzerland. He remained in Switzerland till his death in 1957 except for
Wikipedia has more about this subject: Julius Billeter
some intervening years. He was a respected genealogist that allowed him access to parish registers and civil registers in an age when records were scattered in different localities and credentials were required to view the records. All his activities were funded by subscription or moneys from people who wanted to know more about their ancestry. It was reported that he lived a frugal life and the moneys were just enough to make a living.[1]

Scope of Julius Billeter's Work

The genealogies and names he gathered is quite impressive. When approaching his work one must realize there are some inaccuracies in his work due his research methodology, conditions under which he worked in, volume of names he gathered, and the sketchy nature of records prior to 1810. The main contributing factor can be attributed to the volume of names he recorded and the methodology he employed which allowed him to record so many names. The only way he was able to gather 2 million names in his career was to move hastily from church book to church book. The names and dates are recorded with great accuracy. The places are almost always associated with the heimat or ancestral home. To make those relationship connections require time and study of all the available facts. The weakness in his research is the relationship connections.

Julius Billeter's Notes

Use Billeters notes as a means to an end in creating an accurate genealogy by consulting the church books. The results of Billeters work is on Family Tree. In this age of digitized records one can typically bypass the notes and go directly to the digitized church records. Billeter noted accurate birth dates and the heimat of every person, and marriage dates, to guide us directly to the church record. If there is discrepancies the notes an be consulted. The notes are not digitized.

Family Tree and Julius Billeter's Research

Julius Billeter was a Mormon who performed extensive research between 1899 and 1950. What this means is that most of his research was submitted to the Church as part of their genealogical and Temple programs. You will find the result of Billeter's work on the Family Tree.
In an unedited version of his work on the family tree you will find that everyone is born in there heimat or ancestral home, missing or inaccurate marriage places, no death place, inaccurate relationship connections.
In an edited version where records are linked to individuals you may find that part of your genealogy does not resemble his work anymore due to new research conclusions.

Family Tree and Switzerland, Church Records, 1277-1992

Switzerland, Church Records, 1277-1992 is a near complete collection of Bern canton church records from the 1600's to 1875. It is now possible to link a baptism, marriage or death record directly to a person in your family tree.

Billeter's Research and Genealogical Programs of the Church

People have been submitting names from Julius Billeter's work to the Church since 1910. Despite the shortcomings of his work, it has become a standard for Swiss Genelaogy. Many Swiss families will be found in the Family Group Records Collection, Archives Section, 1942-1969. This collection is useful in that one can compare what is on Family Tree and what was originally submitted by members of the church.

The FamilySearch Catalog and Julius Billeter

The first step is to go directly to the family tree to see if your names are included. The Family History Library has register of the names that he researched that can be found on film 908186 item 1. You can also do a keyword or surname search of the FamilySearch Catalog to see if your family's name is included in his research.

The filmed church records are becoming less relevant as the church records have been digitized but until there are links to individual volumes in the wiki, they can be useful in navigating each parishes landing page. The wiki is being developed with volume numbers, descriptions, links, and film numbers for every parish in Bern Canton, so one can quickly go to a volume to view a particular record. See the Melchnau parish page on the wiki that is being developed.

The FamilySearch Bern Canton Wiki

The parishes and gemeinden of Bern Canton can be found on the wiki. This will become the guide to understanding and accessing Bernese records.


  1. Julius C Billeter, Julius Billeter, pioneer Swiss genealogist : a man of faith and action

    (Salt Lake City, 1980), 32 pages available at Family History Library and Family History Centers


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  • This page was last modified on 28 November 2015, at 04:24.
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