Research / Genealogy

The search for one's roots

Bild des Stammbaums der Familie Bluntschli 1499-1899

Genealogists are among the most active users of the State Archives. Most of the time, the focus is one's own origin and roots. Genealogy can be limited to the collection of the greatest possible number of ancestors or possibly famous ancestors, however it may also mean a demanding leisure activity with a focus on sources to gain insight into history as a whole. Questions as to genealogy with a reference to the Canton of Zurich can very quickly lead you to the State Archives. So-called "parish registers", i.e. the predecessor of today's civil register, are of prime importance.

Parish registers in the State Archives

The State Archives of the Canton of Zurich centrally store the existing parish registers (baptismal register, marriage register and register of deaths) of the parishes dating back to the reformation until the entry into force of the Confederate Law on Civil Registers (1876), as well as the "Haushaltungsrodel" (family books kept by the parish priest [German]) and family registers. The cities of Zurich and Winterthur are the only ones to keep their old civil status documents themselves in their respective City Archives. There are also many population registers of great value to many parishes regarding the period between approximately 1634 and 1710, providing further sources of genealogical information (cf. online search [German]).

Instructions for future genealogists

The research into a family's history starts with its youngest members. Information is gathered as far back as possible by contacting the civil register office. Once you have gone back in time to the 1870s, a visit to the State Archives can be envisaged. The search in the State Archives then focuses on the places of origin of the persons searched for or respectively on the parish registers of the respective parish.

For comprehensive instructions in the field of genealogy in the Canton of Zurich, please refer to Mario von Moos, Familiengeschichtliche Forschungen im Kanton Zürich, (no place of publication or date given) (Arbeitshilfen für Familienforscher in der Schweiz 4, published by the Swiss Society of Genealogical Studies). The document can be purchased from the State Archives. Persons interested in the history of their family or in a «family tree» may contact a professional genealogist. Addresses are available at the State Archives.


  • Index of old families
    (Families certified to have lived in the municipalities of the Canton of Zurich prior to 1800)
  • Passports issued in Zurich 1848-1870 (to Australia and America)
  • Project