Switzerland, Bern, Civil Registration (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Switzerland, Bern, Civil Registration, 1792-1876 .
This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Bern, Switzerland
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Location of Bern, Switzerland
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Record Description
Record Type: Civil Registration
Collection years: 1792-1876
Languages: Germany, French
Title in the Language: Schweiz, Bern, Zivilstandsregister, 1792-1876; Suisse, Berne, registres d'etat civil, 1792-1876
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Staatsarchiv Bern

What is in the Collection?

This genealogical collection will include records from 1792 to 1876.

Civil registration records were microfilmed from originals kept at the State Archives for the Canton Bern, in Bern, Switzerland. The record text is written in German or French, depending on the locality where the records were created.

This collection of civil birth, marriage, and death records for Bern includes the years 1792 to 1876. At this time, civil registration had not yet been implemented by the government, but was handled by church authorities.

The civil registration of birth, marriage, and death was not implemented nationally in Switzerland until 1876. Therefore, the records in this collection were mostly recorded by Catholic Church or Protestant Church priests, who were responsible for registering changes in the civil status of the citizens. In earlier years the civil registry kept two separate sets of books: A-registers included the records of births, marriages, and deaths of citizens in the community and B- registers included the births, marriages, and deaths of citizens outside the community.

Civil records were created to record important events in the lives of the people of the land. This recording of data also helped provide citizenship benefits and statistics for civil authorities.

Civil records are a reliable source for genealogical research as well as church records. These are generally correct as far as the information goes, as the event was registered by eyewitnesses of the event. Barring spelling errors or faulty memory; civil records are as accurate as they could be.

Image Visibility

Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images available for all users. However, rights to view images on our website are granted by the record custodians. These images can be viewed online by members of the supporting organization(s), at a Family History Center near you, or the Family History Library.

For additional information about image restrictions, please see the Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections page.

To Browse this Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Switzerland, Bern, Civil Registration, 1792-1876..

Sample Images

Click on images for a larger view.

Birth records may contain the following information:

  • Name of child
  • Date and place of birth
  • Parents’ names
  • Parents’ residence and occupation

Marriage records may contain the following information:

  • Bride and Groom’s names
  • Bride and Groom’s ages, residence, and occupation
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Parents’ names, residence, and occupation
  • Names of witnesses

Death records may contain the following information:

  • Name of deceased
  • Deceased age at time of death
  • Sometimes the place of birth or occupation
  • Cause of death
  • Name of surviving spouse and sometimes of the children
  • Name and residence of informant
  • Sometimes the name of the parents is given

How Do I Search the Collection?

To browse the collection by image:

⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the appropriate "Place"
⇒Select the appropriate "Event type and years" which takes you to the images

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.

The most important information one can take from this record is the place of origin of the immigrant, but it is first necessary to know the place where the person requested his/her citizenship and when he or she did so.

Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life.
  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • Use the age in the citizen to find an approximate birth year to begin your search in church or civil records.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have moved, been recruited or lived nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify. Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual. This compiled list can help you identify possible relations that can be further verified by researching vital records indexes in the country.
  • When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Save a copy of the image or transcribe the information. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details such as a title, an occupation, or land ownership. Add this new information to your records of each family. You should also look for leads to other records about your ancestors.
  • Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking for, What Now?

  • Switch to a different record collection. Depending on the time period, either Civil Registration records or Church Records may be more useful.
  • While searching, it is helpful to know such information as the ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence and age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as an ancestor and that the ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.
  • Keep in mind that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name while searching the index or browsing through images. Pay special attention to how the name should have been pronounced and try variations on the pronunciation.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Search the indexes and records of local genealogical societies.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.  

Collection Citation:

"Switzerland, Bern, Civil Registration, 1792-1876." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Staatsarchiv, Bern (State Archives, Bern).

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for Switzerland, Bern, Civil Registration, 1792-1876.

Image Citation:

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Switzerland, Bern, Civil Registration, 1792-1876.

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.