Canton Zürich, Switzerland Genealogy

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

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Canton Zürich

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 Zürich, originally called the Zürichgau, is centered on the city of Zürich, which became independent in 1218. The canton's territory aligns with land that was obtained by the city during the 1200s through the 1600s. The city and canton of Zürich joined the Swiss Confederacy in 1351.
The Swiss Reformation, led by the pastor Huldrych Zwingli, broke out in Zürich in the 1520s, and resulted in major changes in state matters and civil life in Zürich, spreading to other cantons. The entire canton was converted to the Reformed religion. Zürich was was a bastion of the Reformed faith and was central to the conflicts with the cantons which remained Catholic.
Zürich was a powerful member of the Swiss Confederation through the 1700s. However, the Helvetic Revolution of 1798 saw the fall of the Ancien Régime. Zürich lost control of the land and its economic privileges, and with the administrative changes, the city lost its control of the canton. Several outlying communities formally became part of the canton., Zürich's territorial possessions to the west and east were lost, becoming parts of the cantons of Aargau and Thurgau.
Zürich is a German speaking canton. For more information about the history of Zürich, see the Wikipedia article.

Parishes in Canton Zürich[edit | edit source]

The following is a list of the church parishes of Canton Zürich as they existed by 1875.

Karte Gemeinden des Kantons Zürich farbig 1957.png

Census Records[edit | edit source]

Starting in 1633, all Reformed residents of Canton Zürich and some parishes in surrounding cantons were recorded in census records. The latest census record was created in 1767. For more information about the census, see the FamilySearch Wiki article. For a list of censuses available for your parish, see the corresponding parish page in the Research Wiki.

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Civil registration began in Canton Zürich in 1876. To understand the records available, read the Wiki article, Switzerland Civil Registration.

Some civil registration records have been deposited in the Zürich canton archive. A list of all deposited records can be found here.

To find the civil registration office for any current or former municipality (back to 1962), the address can be accessed from the Swiss federal government website by clicking here. The top box, Wohnort/Ereignisort (residence or event location) is for the municipality the event took place. The second box, Heimatort (place of citizenship) is for the municipality where the person holds citizenship. As you type in the name of your municipality in either box, a list of options will appear. Click on the town of interest, and the office will appear under Suchresultat (search results), along with the address and email.

To find current information about municipalities that may have been annexed or merged, see the Wikipedia article List of former municipalities.

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

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Parish records[edit | edit source]

Parish records for Canton Zürich can be found in multiple places, both online and in archives.

Online parish records[edit | edit source]

  • FamilySearch has microfilmed and digitized records for the entire canton. These records can be accessed from the FamilySearch Catalog (click on Places within Switzerland, Zürich to select the parish). There may be restrictions on viewing these records.
  • The Zürich city archive has digitized records in color for the city of Zürich. The records can be accessed here. Click on the parish of interest, then click on the parish book. To access the book, click on the link next to E-Paper; the book will open in a new window. Be patient; it may take some time to load the page.

Parish records in archives[edit | edit source]

Original Zürich church records can be found in three places:

The parish records at the Zürich cantonal archive are available through 1875, though family books often are unrestricted and available into the early 1900s.

Indexes[edit | edit source]

Zürich Marriage Indexes[edit | edit source]

Other Indexes[edit | edit source]

Very few church records have been indexed for Canton Zürich. You can search these indexes through the following collections:

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, Zürich FamilySearch Catalog.
  2. Open the list "Places within Switzerland, Zürich". Select your town.
  3. A list of record categories will open up. Click on "Church records".
  4. A list of available records will appear. Click on the record title you are interested in searching.
  5. 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 at least one record on 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.

Research Tools[edit | edit source]