Official documents of the old Confederation and authorities of the Helvetic Republic and the modern federal state can be found in many archives. Many of them are also accessible online.
Legal texts predating 1798
Before the Helvetic Republic was founded, the Confederation consisted of member states known as "localities". The surviving documents from this period, among them legal texts predating 1798, are found mainly in the state archives (ger). Many certificates with a legal character from the middle ages and more recent times are meanwhile accessible online in digital format via the e-codices, Switzerland's virtual transcript library.
Legal texts from 1798 to 1848
The localities of the Confederation first formed a centralist state when the Helvetic Republic was founded in 1798. Centralism was expressed by, among other things, the foundation of a central state archive. The archive had the task of collecting and archiving state documents – including legal documents from the periods 1798-1803, 1804-1813 and 1814-1848. Legal texts dating from these times are often also accessible in the form of published collections of statutes.
Legal texts after 1848
Currently valid legal principles from 1848 to date can be found in the Classified Compilation of Federal Legislation and the Official Compilation (ger) of the Federal Chancellery. The more recent versions of these publications are usually accessible online. Older legal texts are available in every larger public or legal library and also in the Swiss National Library.
The communications of the Federal Council and parliamentary debates during legislative processes (official bulletin) can be referenced from the Government Publications of the Confederation. The preliminary files are available online from the Federal Archives for research. The Federal Archives have two tools for this purpose: documents on consultations held between 1960 and 1991 can be found in the consultation database (ger). The federal constitution workshop (PDF, 22 MB, 04.08.2014) (ger) contains a compilation of the documents relating to reviews of the constitution.
Note: the Federal Gazette is accessible via the website of the BAR and federal chancellery; the online publication of the Official Bulletin (ger) is available on the Swiss parliament website as of the winter session 1995.
Interstate treaties – i.e. bilateral agreements with states or organisations and international agreements with Switzerland – can be found in the State Treaties database (ger) of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The originals of these treaties are archived in the Federal Archives.
Tips for further research
- Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (ger) with, among others, articles on laws (ger) and certificates (ger).
Publications of the Federal Archives
Collection of transcripts held by the Federal Archives (PDF, 141 MB, 28.09.2012)
Die systematische Kompetenzkartei des Bundesarchivs
Bundesgesetz über die friedliche Verwendung der Atomenergie
Datenschutz als Gesetz: Wie alles begann
Inkrafttreten der Invalidenversicherung
Last modification 04.11.2019
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Swiss Federal Archives