Switzerland Church Records

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Protestants first required the recording of baptisms and marriages in 1525, Catholics in 1563 at the Council of Trent. However, many of the early church records have been lost.

The records can be written in German, Latin, French, Italian, or Romantsch. The following may be included in the church records:

• baptisms, marriages, burials, confirmations,
• lists of communicants
• family registers (soul registers)
• lists of ministers in the parish,
• church council minutes
• notations about those who have fallen away, i.e. Anabaptists

Whenever possible, events concerning citizens of the home parish that took place in other parishes are listed in the home parish as well. Hence, there may be separate sections in the parish register, which in the FHLC entries may be described as “Auswärtige”.

The women‘s maiden names are usually given in the church records throughout their lives. However, they may be buried under their married or maiden name. Also, the record keeping conventions vary somewhat by region.

Surnames may be abbreviated. Also, there are many unusual forms of given names.

This portion of the wiki article describes a collection that is scheduled to become available for free online at FamilySearch Record Search.

Switzerland, Basel Church Records

Foreign Language Title

Schweiz, Basel-Stadt Kirchenbücher

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 History

These church books cover a majority of the population for the Canton of Basel, which includes parishes in the city of Basel and its environs. The city of Basel today is the third most populous city in Switzerland.

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.


Why This Collection 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.

Record Reliability

Church books are the 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.


Record Description

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.

Records in this online collection can be browsed by locality (Ort) first, then by event type, and then chronologically. The event types are given in German: Taufen, Ehen, Tote (Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths). Name indexes (Namenverzeichnis) and event indexes (e.g. Ehenregister) are included when available. A mixture of record formats may be contained within these records.

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. 

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); and Totenregister (death index).

Record Content

The key genealogical facts found in most baptism records are:

• 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 key genealogical facts found in most marriage records are:

• 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 key genealogical facts found in most burial records are:

• 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

Use these Basel records to identify ancestors (individuals, their parents, and their spouses) and make family connections.

Related Websites

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Sources of This Collection

Original records are located at Staatsarchiv Basel-Stadt, Martinsgasse 2, 4051 Basel, Switzerland.

How to Cite Your Sources

Instructions for citing this source can be found at: Cite Your Sources (Source Footnotes)

CID1640373 Please do not erase or change this identification number.