Canton Bern, Switzerland Genealogy

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Guide to Canton Bern ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.

Switzerland Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
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Local Research Resources
Canton Bern


Getting Started[edit | edit source]

If you are new to Swiss research, you should watch this introductory course. Then study the articles on church records and civil registration, as almost all of your research will be in those two record groups.

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History[edit | edit source]

In 1353, Bern joined the Swiss Confederacy, becoming one of the eight cantons of the formative period of 1353 to 1481.
Bern invaded and conquered Aargau in 1415 and Vaud in 1536, as well as other smaller territories and become the largest city-state north of the Alps by the 18th century.
Bern was occupied by French troops in 1798 during the French Revolutionary Wars, when it was stripped of parts of its territories. It regained control of the Bernese Oberland in 1802, and following the Congress of Vienna of 1814, it newly acquired the Bernese Jura. At this time, it once again became the largest canton of the Confederacy as it stood during the Restoration and until the secession of the canton of Jura in 1979. Bern was made the Federal City within the new Swiss federal state in 1848.
Bern is a German speaking canton.

Bern (Wikipedia)

Parishes and Municipalities in Canton Bern[edit | edit source]

under construction Karte Gemeinden des Kantons Bern farbig 1994.png

Compiled Genealogies[edit | edit source]

Main article: Julius Billeter 1869 - 1957


Civil Registration Online[edit | edit source]

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Church Records Online[edit | edit source]

Bern parish church records have been digitized online and can be accessed in the following ways:

  • The Bern archive has published low-quality scans of the church records. Click on the plus next to Kirchenbücher and select your parish. Then double-click on the volume based on the description. Click on the .pdf link to access the full PDF file of the church book.
  • FamilySearch has also digitized the church records. These can be accessed in the following ways:
    • Some FamilySearch Wiki Bern parish pages have direct links to the church volumes.
    • The FamilySearch Catalog (click on Places within Switzerland, Bern to select the parish). There may be restrictions on viewing these records.
    • The FamilySearch Historical Collection Schweiz, Kirchenbücher, 1277-1992 is organized by parish, but the organization within each parish is difficult to navigate. See also: Using the Online Bern Church Records
      If possible, access the records through the FamilySearch Catalog for better descriptions of the records.

Indexes[edit | edit source]

There are partial indexes of church records on FamilySearch. They can be accessed in these collections:

For information on the coverage and content of church records, read Switzerland Church Records..

FamilySearch Microfilmed/Digitized Records[edit | edit source]

All microfilmed parish records have been digitized. These records may have a restriction for use only at a Family History Center near you.

Instructions:

  1. Click on Switzerland, Bern FamilySearch Catalog.
  2. Open the list "Places within Switzerland, Bern". Select your town.
  3. A list of record categories will open up. Click on "Church records".
  4. A list of available records will appear. Click on the record title you are interested in searching.
  5. Scroll down to the list of microfilm numbers. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.

Reading the Records[edit | edit source]

Search Strategy[edit | edit source]

This search strategy will help you determine what to write for. Limit tour requests to just one of these steps at a time. Once you have established that the parish is cooperative and perhaps more willing to do more extensive research (for a fee), you might be able to ask them for more at a time.

  • Search for the relative or ancestor you selected.
  • When you find his birth record, search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
  • Next, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
  • You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records.
  • Search the death registers for all known family members.
  • Repeat this process for both the father and the mother, starting with their birth records, then their siblings' births, then their parents' marriages, and so on.
  • If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.

Research Tools[edit | edit source]