Canton Sankt Gallen, Switzerland Genealogy

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Guide to Canton Sankt Gallen ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.

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Canton Sankt Gallen

Getting Started[edit | edit source]

If you are new to Swiss research, you should watch this introductory course. Then study the articles on church records and civil registration, as almost all of your research will be in those two record groups.

Ask the

History[edit | edit source]

The canton of St. Gallen is an artificial construct of various historical territories, defined by Napoleon Bonaparte in the Act of Mediation in 1803. About half of the canton's area corresponds to the acquisitions of the abbey of St. Gallen over centuries. St. Gallen is a German speaking canton

  • The city of St. Gallen became independent of the ancient Abbey of St. Gallen in 1405. At the same time, the abbey lost control of Appenzell.
  • Both the city and the abbey were associates of the Old Swiss Confederacy, but unlike Appenzell never joined as full members.
  • The Toggenburg valley was acquired by the Abbey of St. Gallen in 1468.
  • In 1526 the Protestant Reformation was introduced into St. Gallen. The town converted to the new religion while the abbey remained Roman Catholic. While riots forced the monks to flee the city and remove images from the city's churches, the fortified abbey of St. Gallen remained untouched and the abbey would remain a Catholic stronghold in the Protestant city until 1803.
  • The territories at Lake Zürich, Walensee, and Rheintal remained independent until 1798.
  • Before the French invasion of 1798, the territory of the modern canton consisted of: the free city of St. Gallen; the territories of the Abbey of St. Gallen (including Fürstenland and Toggenburg); the free city of Rapperswil; Pfäfers Abbey; Sargans; and the independent bailiwicks of Rheintall, Sax-Forstegg, Hohensax, Werdenberg, Windegg, and Uznach.
  • During the Helvetic Republic, established by the conquering French in 1798, the northern parts of the modern canton, together with Appenzell, became the Canton of Säntis, while the southern parts, together with Glarus became the canton of Linth. The Abbey of St. Gallen was secularized in September 1798.
  • The Helvetic Republic was widely unpopular in Switzerland and was overthrown in 1803. Following the Act of Mediation the Canton of St. Gallen joined the Swiss Confederation, with the city of St. Gallen as the capital.
  • At the beginning of the 19th century, the first embroidery machines were developed in St. Gallen. In 1910 the embroidery production constituted the largest export branch in Switzerland and more than half of the worldwide production of embroidery originated in St. Gallen. However, World War I and the Great Depression caused another severe crisis for St. Gallen embroidery.

Sankt Gallen (Wikipedia)

Parishes or Municipalities in Canton Sankt Gallen[edit | edit source]

Karte Gemeinden des Kantons St. Gallen farbig 1952-1.png

Census Records[edit | edit source]

Population or census registers of the Reformed Parishes in the Synod of Zürich, Switzerland. Names, ages, and sometimes baptism dates are shown for members of households. Includes some registers for Anabaptists, Catholics, and others. See individual parish pages in Sankt Gallen for more information about these censuses.

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Civil registration began in Canton Sankt Gallen in 1867. To understand the records available, read the Wiki article, Switzerland Civil Registration.

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Sankt Gallen parish church records have been digitized online and can be accessed in the following ways:

  • The Sankt Gallen archive has published digitized images of the church records. They can be accessed from the individual parish pages. You can also access these records by clicking here. Click on the plus next to Kirchenbücher see a list of parish books, then double-click on the book of interest. Then click on the link.
  • FamilySearch has also digitized the church records. These can be accessed through the FamilySearch Catalog (click on Places within Switzerland, Sankt Gallen to select the parish). There may be restrictions on viewing these records. Additionally, some records are fully restricted due to privacy laws.

For information on the coverage and content of church records, read Switzerland Church Records.

FamilySearch Microfilmed/Digitized Records[edit | edit source]

All microfilmed parish records have been digitized. These records may have a restriction for use only at a Family History Center near you.


  1. Click on Switzerland, Sankt Gallen FamilySearch Catalog.Sankt Gallen". Select your town.
  2. A list of record categories will open up. Click on "Church records".
  3. A list of available records will appear. Click on the record title you are interested in searching.
  4. Scroll down to the list of microfilm numbers. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.

Reading the Records[edit | edit source]

Search Strategy[edit | edit source]

This search strategy will help you determine what to write for. Limit tour requests to just one of these steps at a time. Once you have established that the parish is cooperative and perhaps more willing to do more extensive research (for a fee), you might be able to ask them for more at a time.

  • Search for the relative or ancestor you selected.
  • When you find his birth record, search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
  • Next, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
  • You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records.
  • Search the death registers for all known family members.
  • Repeat this process for both the father and the mother, starting with their birth records, then their siblings' births, then their parents' marriages, and so on.
  • If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.