Canton Valais, Switzerland Genealogy

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

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Canton Valais


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.

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History[edit | edit source]

On August 4, 1815 Valais finally entered the Swiss confederation as a canton. In 1845, Valais joined the Catholic separate league which led to what is called the Sonderbund War. The people of Valais chose not to fight. Valais is a French, German and Italian speaking canton.

Valais (Wikipedia)

Emigration Records[edit | edit source]

These records have a restriction for use only at a Family History Center near you.

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Civil registration began in Canton Valais in 1853. To understand the records available, read the Wiki article, Switzerland Civil Registration.

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Valais church records were microfilmed by the Valais archive through 1876. These records are only available onsite at the Valais archive. You must obtain written permission from the priest of the parish (where the original records are still found) before accessing the records in the archives; this permission form can be used for this purpose. The archive has compiled an inventory of available church records. Due to limited space, be sure to make an appointment before viewing the records at the archive.

You will be able to write your request in French with the help of the France Letter Writing Guide.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

The Valais archive has census records for 1798, 1802, 1829, 1837, 1846, 1850, 1870, and 1880. The censuses from 1850 and 1870 have been digitized and are available online. You can access them from the following links:

Genealogical Societies[edit | edit source]

The Walliser Vereinigung für Familienforschung (Valais Society for Family History) focuses on exchanging family history data between members. The site is available in French or German.

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.

Research Tools[edit | edit source]