Searches: How to make contact
DEUTSCH / ENGLISH / FRANÇAIS
There are many different kinds of surname data available on
the Internet -- and therefore many different methods and places
to search for surnames. Many of the following links will not be
specifically for Swiss surnames -- some are. The following list
will help you with your search, by describing the different types
of data as well as the methods to search them: this list will
never be complete, and any addition would be welcome!
Types of data:
- Mailing lists and newsgroups will contain many surnames.
Often there is no standard format for mailings - so the
amount of data you'll find in such a posting may vary:
from "any Meier out there ?" to detailed
listings of vital statistics over several generations.
Previous postings can be traced by search
- Some mailing lists or newsgroups (especially
soc.genealogy.surnames) require some basic standard (i.e.
they are moderated) and keep archives
which may be searched on-line or off-line.
- For a large number of surnames there are surname specific
mailing lists to discuss questions
relating to a given surname.
- "Surname registries"
range from just a name to fairly detailed information in
combination with that name (e.g. location, time frame,
denomination, type of source, ...): if you know only the
name, this will not make much difference - but, unless it
is a very uncommon name, your chances to find a link are
rather dim. Once you have more information on the name
you are researching, obviously the more detailed
registries will give you a better impression which leads
are worth following.
- Finally you may want to get in touch with people of the
surname you are looking for - might be your last chance
to find a living person and discover that and how you are
related: telephone and e-mail
directories are what you are looking for.
- Not covered on this page are surname indices to e.g.
published genealogies: some are found on the Canton pages.
- Google (that bought DejaNews)
will enable you to search a large number of newsgroups
(many of them without genealogical content) for surnames
(or any other words): this may give you information on
activities of people with your name (there might be
famous ones), and also may provide you with an e-mail
address to contact (if the name you have been looking for
was found in the senders signature).
- Google also lets you do a Power Search:
this allows the definition of a "filter" -
limit your search to a specific newsgroup or type of
newsgroup (e.g. soc.genealogy.*) or a limited time period
for the posting (will be faster when looking for a
message you know was posted in Jan of last year).
Surname List allows interactive search on some
600'000 surnames (worldwide) submitted by more than
75'000 genealogists. If you are not sure about the
spelling of your ancestor's name Roots
Surname List "Soundex" Search may be
suitable for you: just type in the name and
"soundex" will find similar spellings. If you
want to know more details about RSL, visit their Overview.
- There is also a mailing list for German/French/Italian
speaking researchers - but it is open for members of the
participating genealogical societies only. See
for details. If you can communicate in one of these
languages (so far the conversation is mostly in German,
and English is not encouraged !), and want to contact
experienced Swiss researchers, you might consider joining
one of the participating societies - depending on what
area of Switzerland you are interested in.
- The International Internet
Genealogical Society (IIGS) is setting up a surname
query list. The aim is to inform posters, if a surname
mailing list exists - if not, some direct advice from
other subscribers is hoped for. If it appears that there
are sufficient posts for a particular surname, after a
period of time, and that a new list is justified, it will
be attempted to start a new surname mailing list. How
this project will relate to soc.genealogy.surnames
will have to be determined: if you want to find out, send
the word subscribe (and nothing else !) to SURNAME-QUERY-Lfirstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Swiss Surname Directory
serves a dual purpose :
- provide information on Swiss surnames from several sources, and
- facilitate people researching the same surname to contact
To fulfill this purpose the Swiss Surname Directory
contains information from or about some sources
completely, data from other sources are looked up by
volunteers upon request and added to the database. By
requesting information from the Directory you register
your interest in this name : a search in the Directory
results in the display of all information available on a
given surname, plus a list of "interested
persons" - you can send an e-mail directly to these
persons. This is fast - but you just ought to be careful:
the same name will only in few cases imply that there is
a relation to your own family.
- Doug Schorey's Swiss
Surname List is just a surname register (i.e. does
not contain actual information on a given surname) and
will be useful for you if you know the surname only, and
that your ancestors were from Switzerland: if you find
your name, you can send an e-mail directly to the
submitter. This is fast - but you just ought to be
careful: the same name will only in few cases imply that
there is a relation to your own family.
This List is no longer upgraded, i.e. it
is not possible any longer to register your surname : you
are invited to register with the Swiss
Surname Directory instead.
- GeneaNet provides
a search in many different types of surname indices including the
Familiennamenbuch (Register of Surnames) indexation and
will in most cases link to a web page or a e-mail address.
- The German
Migration Resource Center allows you to register
queries, not only on surnames, but also on individuals;
queries about Swiss ancestors are also welcome. Subscribe
by month to search the 9,000+ registered queries (fee).
Searchable GEDCOM databases:
- GENSERV links to
over 14'000'000 individuals with more than 350'000
surnames in more than 10'000 GEDCOM databases worldwide.
There is a fee for full access, but you may do free
searches in a (small) demo database; if you submit your
own data, you'll get two months free access.
has a search facility for their "Community
Publishing includes detailed web pages in their
surname search (mainly US - but incl a fair number of
Swiss emigrants). Basic data online - detailed data
sheets may be ordered.
Telephone and e-mail directories:
- Several service providers (e.g. bluewin, compuserve, switch - mostly
serving residents of Switzerland) provide access to
- TwixTel, Telefonbuch-CD (PC) and Quick 111(Mac) provide
directories on CD-ROM.
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This page is maintained by Wolf W. Seelentag, with
contributions from David Schmutz. / Last updated 04 August 2004.
Please forward any comments and/or additions to this webpage to the WebMasterCH.