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Researching the history of a family

If you are interested in researching your family history (also known as "genealogy"), the Parish Registers (Kirchenbücher) are a very important source of information.
These records of baptisms, marriages and deaths kept by the local pastors were the forerunners of today’s civil registers.

The Parish Registers for most Bernese parish councils from the time of the Reformation until the Federal Civil Status Act came into force in 1876 are preserved centrally in the State Archive. The exception are the Parish Registers of the communes of Frutigen, Guttannen, Lenk and Saanen which are not yet available in the State Archive.

For reasons of conservation, all the Parish Registers have been recorded on microfilm.

How do I get started?

Research into the history of a family begins with its most recent members. Wherever possible, information on family members must be obtained from the relevant Civil Register Office. After you managed to trace the names of family members back to 1870s, the work may be continued in the State Archive.

Researching family histories/genealogy in the State Archive of Bern is only possible if the place of origin (Heimatort) of the family you are researching is located in the Canton of Bern.

The Parish Registers are written in an old form of German handwriting (known in German as “Kurrentschrift" or "Spitzschrift"). You will need a basic knowledge of how to read this script.

The digitized Parish Registers may be viewed every Friday on special computers. Interested researchers may reserve one of them on a maximum of three Fridays each year. The State Archive cannot guarantee that a reading device will be available on additional Fridays. The summary of the Parish Register you find on our online inventory.

The Parish Registers are digitized by a private provider and are available for sale on CD. For further details, please visit his web page.


Further information on genealogy or help with research into your family history can be obtained by contacting the following professional genealogists:

Further information


State Archive of Canton Bern

Falkenplatz 4
P.O. Box 8424
3001 Bern

Phone 031 633 51 01
Fax 031 633 51 02
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