Switzerland Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Switzerland, Church Records, 1277-1992 .
This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
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Record Description
Record Type: Church Book Extracts
Collection years: 1277-1992
Languages: German
Title in the Language: Schweiz, Kirchenbücher, 1277-1992
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
LDS Family History Center, Pratteln

What is in the Collection?

This collection contains images of original church records (christenings, marriages, burials, etc.) from various cantons of Switzerland for the years 1277-1992. The images for the canton of Bern can only be viewed at the Family History Library, FamilySearch Centers, and by members of the supporting organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Images for Basel-Stadt and Schaffhausen are unrestricted and can be viewed by all users. Original records are maintained in Basel-Stadt, Bern, and Schaffhausen State Archives.

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. 

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. 

Event types were often compiled in separate volumes, for instance, baptisms in one volume and marriages in another. In smaller 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. 

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

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. 

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.

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.

Image Visibility

Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images available for all users. However, ultimate rights to view images on our website are granted by the record custodians. The Switzerland, Church Records 1277-1992 for the Records for cantons (kantons) of Basel-Stadt and Schaffhausen are unrestricted and can be viewed by all users. However; the images for the canton (kanton) of Bern can only be viewed at the Family History Library, FamilySearch Centers, and by members of the supporting organization: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

These records may include the following information:

  • 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)

To Browse this Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Switzerland, Church Book Extracts, 1550-1875.

Sample Images

Click on images for a larger view.

Baptism records may contain the following information:

  • 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

Marriage records may contain the following information:

  • 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

Burial records may contain the following information:

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

How Do I Search the Collection?

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Switzerland, Church Records, 1277-1992.

To search by image:

⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "Canton" category
⇒Select the "Place" category
⇒Select the "Religion" category
⇒Select the "Event type and Years" category 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.

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.

If there is an index, begin your search by finding your ancestors in the index. Name indexes to baptisms, marriages, and death or burials make it possible to access a specific record quickly.

An example is the Staatsarchiv of Basel-Stadt that 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, in this case, 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.

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.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

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, Church Records, 1277-1992." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017.

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, Church Records, 1277-1992.

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.