Canton Ticino, Switzerland Genealogy
Guide to Canton Ticino ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.
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|Local Research Resources|
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.
Ticino is an Italian-speaking canton. The lands of the canton of Ticino were the last lands to be conquered by the Swiss Confederation.
- In ancient times, the area of what is now Ticino was settled by the Lepontii, a Celtic tribe. It later became part of the Roman Empire.
- Around 1100 it was the center of struggle between the entities of Milan and Como.
- In the 1300s it was acquired by the Visconti family, the Dukes of Milan.
- Between 1403 and 1515, the Swiss Confederation fought southward in three separate conquests, annexing territory valley by valley; Canton Uri held part of the territory, while the Twelve Cantons administered the other part. Territorial expansion stopped after the defeat of the Swiss Confederation at the Battle of Marignano by France in 1515.
- Between 1798 and 1803, during the Helvetic Republic, Uri lost its portion of the territory and two cantons were created by the French: Bellinzona and Lugano.
- In 1803 the two were unified to form the canton of Ticino, which joined the Swiss Confederation as a full member in the same year. The canton was named after the Ticino River, which was known as the Ticinus in Roman times.
- During the Napoleonic Wars, many Ticinesi men served in Swiss military units allied with the French.
- Until 1878 the three largest cities, Bellinzona, Lugano and Locarno, alternated as capital of the canton but in 1878, Bellinzona became the only and permanent capital.
- The 1870–1891 period saw a surge of political turbulence in Ticino, and the authorities needed the assistance of the federal government to restore order several times.
- Ticino has seen multiple municipalities be merged to form new ones, especially since 2000. Between 2000 and 2010, for example, the number of municipalities shrunk by approximately 99.
- The current cantonal constitution dates from 1997. The previous constitution, heavily modified, was codified in 1830, nearly 20 years before the constitution of the Swiss Confederation.
Canton Ticino (Wikipedia)
Parishes or Municipalities in Ticino
Census Records Online
These records have a restriction for use only at a Family History Center near you.
- Ticino Censimento, 1808-1837, images.
Civil registration began in Canton Ticino in 1855. To understand the records available, read the Wiki article, Switzerland Civil Registration.
- Addresses for Civil Registration (ZivilStandesamt) Offices (.pdf)
- You will be able to write your request in Italian with the help of the Italy Letter Writing Guide.
FamilySearch has microfilmed records for the entire canton, but these records are only available onsite at the Family History Smith. These records can be accessed from the FamilySearch Catalog (click on Places within Switzerland, Thurgau to select the parish). There are restrictions preventing viewing any Ticino church records online.
There are no indexes of church records online.
You will be able to write your request in Italian with the help of the Italy Letter Writing Guide.
For information on the coverage and content of church records, read Switzerland Church Records.
Reading the Records
- Italian Genealogical Word List
- Swiss Dialect Genealogical Word List
- Reading Italian Handwritten Records:
- Lesson 1: The Italian Alphabet
- Lesson 2: Words and Phrases
- Lesson 3: Reading Italian Records
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.