Switzerland Church Records (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, Church Records, 1277-1992 .

Title in the Language of the Record

Schweiz, Kirchenbücher 1277-1992

Collection Time Period

Records in this collection begin in 1380 and go through 1917. Most of the church records contained in this collection, however, begin in the mid 1500s and end by 1910.

Record Description

This collection contains images of the church books for the Canton of Basel-Stadt. The Canton consists of the city of Basel and the two neighboring communities of Riehen and Bettingen. The collection also includes church books relating to Kleinhüningen, formerly a small village, absorbed into the city of Basel in 1908.

The event types you will find in this collection include the following:

  • Taufen (baptisms)
  • Taufenregister (baptism index)
  • Ehen (marriages)
  • Ehenregister (marriage index)
  • Eheverkündigungen (marriage announcements)
  • Eheverkündigungenregister (marriage announcement index)
  • Familienbuch (family book)
  • Familienbuchregister (family book index)
  • Konfirmanden (confirmations)
  • Konfirmandenregister (confirmation index)
  • Toten (deaths/burials)
  • Totenregister (death index)

Record Content

Genealogical facts found in most of the baptism records include:
  • Names of the child, parents, and witnesses or godparents
  • Date and place of birth
  • Date of baptism (sometimes even the time of birth and baptism)
  • Residence and religion of the parents
  • Occupation of the father and the other males listed
  • Whether the child was legitimate or illegitimate

The genealogical facts found in most of the marriage records include:

  • Names of the bride, groom, their parents (usually the fathers) and witnesses
  • Date and place of marriage and marriage proclamations or banns
  • Residence of the bride, groom, and their parents
  • Occupation of groom and other males listed

The genealogical facts found in most of the burial records include:

  • Names of the deceased (sometimes names of deceased’s spouse and/or deceased’s parents were included)
  • Date and place of death and burial
  • Age and residence
  • Cause of death

How to Use the Record

Records in this online collection can be browsed by locality (Ort) first, then by religion, and are next arranged by the German-equivalent of the event type—for example, baptisms are Taufen—and then chronologically. Name indexes (Namenverzeichnis) and event indexes (e.g. Ehenregister) are included when available. A mixture of record formats may be contained within these records.

The Staatsarchiv of Bastel-Stadt prepared a "Kirchenbücher Kartei", an index of the church books of the Canton (microfilms 922698-922715). Most of the items in the digital collection that are filed under the heading "Basel / Evangelisch Reformiert" are from the Kartei, though a few parts are filed under "Riehen" or "Riehen-Bettingen". Check the Kartei first to find the name of the parish where the information was originally recorded. The Kartei sections relating to the city of Basel include the French congregation as well as all the Evangelisch Reformiert congregations. In the Kartei, baptismal names are generally alphabetized by the last baptismal name: Anna Catharina and Maria Catharina will be found with Catharina, not with Anna or Maria.

The three localities that were historically not part of the city of Basel may cause some confusion. Riehen was a separate parish from medieval times. In 1513, the village of Bettingen became an annex of this parish, although Bettingen had its own church. In 1528, the parish of Riehen (including Bettingen) adopted the protestant reforms. Thus, from the earliest Protestant records, Riehen and Bettingen constituted a single parish, even though at some periods separate books were used for these two villages. The tiny village of Kleinhüningen, now completely absorbed into the city of Basel, was an annex of the parish of Haltingen (Baden, Germany) prior to 1640 (early records from this parish are on microfilms 1189334 and 1189335). About 1640, Kleinhüningen became an annex of the parish of Sankt Theodor in the city of Basel. Finally, about 1710, Kleinhüningen got a church of its own; at this time separate church books were created for this village. When the old Canton of Basel was split in 1833 to form Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft, all three of these villages elected to become part of Basel-Stadt. They formed a "rural district" in the new Canton and were administered as a unit until about 1875. This history helps explain why some volumes cover only Riehen or Bettingen or Kleinhüningen, others cover Riehen and Bettingen together, and a few include all three of these villages.

Record History

In Switzerland, a parish was an ecclesiastical jurisdiction consisting of many villages and hamlets, with one of the villages designated as the main parish town.

Swiss church records are typically in German or Latin. Regional dialect may affect the spelling of some German words and the use of vocabulary words.

Evangelical Church records began as early as the mid to late 1500s in Switzerland; most church records, however, began in the late 1600s. Church records continue to be kept in the present day.

These church books cover a majority of the population for the Canton of Basel-Stadt, which includes parishes in the city of Basel and its environs. The city of Basel today is the third most populous city in Switzerland. The old Canton of Basel was split in 1833 to form two independent cantons: Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft. Church books from the more rural areas that form the Canton of Basel-Landschaft are not part of this collection.

Event types were often compiled in separate volumes, for instance, baptisms in one volume and marriages in another. In some parishes, however, event types were intermixed and grouped into a volume according to year range. When this is the case, the baptisms, marriages, and burials for one year (e.g. 1785) were grouped together before the baptisms, marriages, and burials for the next year (e.g. 1786), and so on.

Why the Record Was Created

Church records were created to record church sacraments associated with life events (e.g. baptism after birth, burial after death) and those who had received these ordinances. The church records also served as official (civil) records.

Record Reliability

Church books are one of the most reliable and accurate family history sources. Accuracy in the records is, however, dependent upon the accuracy of the informant’s knowledge coupled with the priest recording the information correctly. Ages, birth dates, and birth places recorded in marriage and death entries have a higher probability of being inaccurate.

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

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

The suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched in found in the Wiki Article: How to Create Source Citations for FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.

Examples of Sourch Citations for a Record in This Collection

  • United States. Bureau of Census. 12th census, 1900, digital images, From FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: September 29, 2006), Arizona Territory, Maricopa, Township 1, East Gila, Salt River Base and Meridian; sheet 9B, line 71.
  • Mexico, Districto Federal, Catholic Church Records 1886-1933, digital images, from FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: April 22, 2010), Baptism of Adolfo Femandez Jimenez, 1 Feb, 1910, San Pedro Apostol, Cuahimalpa, Districto Federal, Mexico Film number 0227023.

Sources for This Collection

Switzerland. Church records, 1277-1992. Cantons State Archives (Staatsarchiv des Kantons), Switzerland.

Copies of originals are also housed in different cantons throughout Switzerland:

  • Kirchenbücher. Staatsarchiv Basel-Stadt, Basel, Switzerland.
  • Kirchenbücher. Staatsarchiv Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
  • Kirchenbücher. Stadtsarchiv Schaffhausen, Schaffhausen, Switzerland.

Detailed instructions for adding citations are also listed in the wiki article: Help: How to Create Source Citations for FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.