Swiss Surname Directory


en francais

  1. Familiennamenbuch (Register of Swiss Surnames - is described extensively on a separate page, with examples)
  2. Zürcher Familiennamen (Zürich surnames - is described extensively on a separate page, with examples)
  3. Rätisches Namenbuch (Grisons surnames - is described extensively on separate pages, with examples)
  4. Billeter collection
  5. Historisch-Biographisches Lexikon
  6. Von Moos Bibliography
  7. Telephone directory
  8. Men of Bern: The 1798 Bürgerverzeichnisse of Canton Bern, Switzerland
  9. Other sources

Billeter collection

The genealogies collected by Julius Billeter (1869-1957) cover more than 1200 families from all over Switzerland (many researched on contract); the data usually cover the time span from earliest church records until about 1900. The complete surname index of the Billeter collection has been incorporated into this database. A full list of families researched by Billeter is also available from the LDS Family History Library Catalogue, either with information on citizenships, or with corresponding film numbers.

The data from the surname index are presented here in a format similar to the Register of Swiss Surnames : Canton (two letter code), place of citizenship, first year of mention. It has to be pointed out, however, that the figure quoted here is the first year of mention in the Billeter collection - which is not necessarily the first year of mention of the family in general ! Where only a single year was given for several locations, the locations were separated into the above described format - therefore whenever an identical year is mentioned for several locations, data may not reach back to this year for all locations, but possibly only for one of them (data for other locations starting later).

Please, be aware that we cannot provide detailed data from the Billeter collection : these are available on films (#0193466-488) from the LDS FHCs. Much (if not all ?) of Billeter's data has also been transferred to the "International Genealogical Index (IGI)", also available at LDS Family History Centers. Example and hints. You may also wish to read Rick Saunders' webpage: "Cautions and limitations in using research by Julius Billeter".

The original notes are now kept and maintained by the Basel Genealogical Society. Members of the society have compiled a corrected surname index (published Dec. 2001), also quoting the first year of mention, and the amount of data (number of pages) on each family. List for parts of the alphabet can be viewed directly; for frequent use, however, it is recommended to download the data, either as zipped Word document, or pdf. Copies may be ordered for a fee of CHF 2.50 per sheet.

Historisch-Biographisches Lexikon der Schweiz

Historisch-Biographisches Lexikon der Schweiz (7 volumes + Supplement), Neuenburg 1921-1934.

The Historical-Biographical Encyclopedia of Switzerland compiles historical information as well as biographical notes on large or famous families (including extinct ones, not mentioned in the Register of Surnames), often giving details on important family members. As a standard reference the HBLS will be available at major Swiss libraries; it is also available from LDS (films 1181541-3 or fiche 6000814).

The Swiss Surname Directory contains two types of entries taken from HBLS:

1. Entries made on request : these will usually be a more or less detailed abstract in "normal language" (i.e. sentences) - but not necessarily translated into English.

2. We have also begun to compile a complete surname index of all families mentioned in HBLS. These entries will be very brief and will only mention the canton (two letter code), possibly a village or the first year of mention and/or the number of individuals for which some detail is given in HBLS. The purpose of these entries is only to indicate that a given spelling is (or was) actually a genuine Swiss surname - for details you have to consult the HBLS itself. Often alternative spellings are mentioned in HBLS : these are entered, but contain only a reference to the spelling under which the data are to be found in HBLS. The following example should make this clearer :

Am Stalden : Partial             : LU, since 1478, 1 ind. 
                                   OW, since 1386, 5 ind.
am Stalden : See other spellings : Am Stalden
Amstalden  : See other spellings : Am Stalden
Stalder    : See other spellings : Am Stalden

This tells you : under "Am Stalden" you'll find information on 1 individual from canton Luzern since 1478, and information on 5 individuals from canton Obwalden since 1386; other spellings mentioned are "am Stalden", Amstalden", "Stalder".

A revised version of the HBLS is the Historical Encyclopedia of Switzerland; after a long planning stage the first few articles have been placed on the internet. See for some information (in English) or take a look at the actual data (German/French/Italian only), starting from after selecting a language, you click on the book symbol, ignore the note (click on OK) and type in the word/name you want to search for; in most cases you will only see the index entry (i.e. an article is planned). There are also a few nice maps to look at. Later you'll have to pay for access (this is explained in the note you may ignore for the time being). As indicated by the name change, the biographical notes have been reduced, but there are still notes on important people/families; search for <Aubert> to see a good example - and just try your own name : you might be lucky ;-).

Bibliography by Mario von Moos

Mario von Moos :
Familiengeschichtliche Bibliographie der Schweiz / Bibliographie généalogique suisse / Bibliography of Swiss Genealogies.
Arbeitshilfen für Familienforscher in der Schweiz Band 6 (2 volumes), Zürich 1993 (ISBN 3-908222-00-1).

This standard bibliography lists almost 10'000 references for Swiss genealogy, especially a large number of publications and manuscripts for single families (sorted by family name). For rare books or manuscripts usually a library or archive is mentioned, where the item is available : often this will be "SGFF library" - the collection of genealogies owned by the Swiss Genealogical Society (housed in the Swiss National Library in Bern).
Collections of genealogies of a complete community or region are listed separately, together with a combined name index.
Very useful is also the location index (sorted by Cantons), listing all references (by number) referring to a given town or village.

The book may be ordered from the Document Sales Office of the SGFF; it is also available on CD from Picton Press.

Telephone Directory

Only a rough number of entries in the Swiss telephone directory will be given, possibly differentiating the Cantons : this will give some guidance how common a surname is today.

Other sources

This may include references published after 1992 (not included in the Bibliography by Mario von Moos), or short "abstracts" describing published material in slightly more detail.

Also several collections of genealogies may be mentioned :

  1. "Toggenburgisches Genealogienwerk" compiled by Jakob Wickly (1907-1995) contains the complete genealogies of reformed parishes in the Ober- and Neu-Toggenburg Valley of Canton St.Gallen from earliest church records (Alt-St.Johann 1635, Brunnadern 1708 [prior see Oberhelfenschwil], Ebnat 1762 [prior see Wattwil or Kappel], Hemberg 1600, Kappel 1679 [prior see Krummenau], Krinau 1724 [prior see Mogelsberg - not covered by Wickly], Krummenau 1586, Lichtensteig 1646 [prior see Wattwil], Nesslau 1584, Oberhelfenschwil 1694, Stein 1712 [prior see Nesslau], St.Peterzell 1709 [prior see Hemberg], Wattwil 1612, Wildhaus 1634) until about 1900; selected data from other parishes are also included. Data are available on film (#1860662-667/853-862/955-960) from the LDS.
  2. The genealogies collected by Dr. med. Arnold Lotz (1862-1923) cover families of the city of Basel from the 15th to the 17/18th centuries, in some cases extending to the 19th or even 20th century. The collection is today kept at Staatsarchiv Basel ("Privatarchive 355 C"). Separate ("Privatarchive 355 D") are selected notes on further families, usually 15th and 16th century only. Data are available (unfortunately not in Western Europe !) on film (#1196908-17) from the LDS.
  3. The "Stemmatologia Sangallensis": see separate description with example and explanations.

Swiss Surname Directory / Schweizer Familiennamen-Liste / Dictionnaire des Noms de Famille Suisses / Dizionario dei Cognomi Svizzeri

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This page is maintained by Wolf W. Seelentag. / Last updated 15 March 2013.
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