Switzerland, Canton Bern Civil Registration (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: Switzerland, Bern, Civil Registration, 1792-1876 .

Title in the Language of the Records

Schweiz, Bern, zivile Registrierung

Record Description

This 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 locatilty 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.

For a list of records by localities and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browse.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.

Switzerland. Bern Cantons. Civil Registration, 1792-1876. State Archive of Canton Bern (Staatsarchiv des Kantons Bern), Bern, Switzerland.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.

Record Content

The following record examples from this collection need English translations. Please help us by placing a translation of the record example on the talk page.

Key genealogical facts found in birth records may include:

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

Key genealogical facts found in marriage records may include:

  • 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

Key genealogical facts found in death records may include:

  • 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 to Use the Record

To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "Ort" category
⇒Select the "Ereignistyp, Zeitraum" category which takes you to the images.

Look at the images one by one 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.

Begin your search by finding your ancestors in the index. Name indexes to births, marriages, and deaths make it possible to access a specific record quickly. Remember that these indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

When searching the index it is helpful to know the following:

  • The place where the event occurred
  • The name and surname of the person
  • The approximate date of the event
  • The name of the parents or spouse

Use the locator information found in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the records. Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family.

For example:

  • Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records.
  • Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.
  • Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or military records.
  • Use the parents’ birth places to find former residences and establish a migration pattern for the family.
  • The name of the officiator is a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county. However, ministers may have reported marriages performed in other counties.
  • Compile the marriage entries for every person who has the same surname as the bride or groom; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the marriage records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the bride and groom who may have married in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • Use the marriage number to identify previous marriages.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.

Keep in mind:

  • The information in church records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
  • 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.

If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, try the following:

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.

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Contributions to This Article

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.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection

“Argentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635-1981,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org: accessed 28 February, 2012), La Plata > San Ponciano > Matrimonios 1884-1886 > image 71 of 389 images, Artemio Avendano and Clementina Peralta, 1884; citing Parroquia de San Ponciano en la Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Matrimonios. San Ponciano, La Plata, Buenos Aires.