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The Swiss Federal Archives hold the documents of the Federal State’s political bodies and the federal administration since 1798. The fonds are divided into eight main departments. They consist mostly of paper files, complemented by photographic, sound and film material as well as digital data.

Practically all the fonds of the Federal Archives can be searched online using the Swiss Archives database. The documents deal chiefly with political issues at federal level. In most cases, the cantonal and municipal archives hold the relevant documents on cantonal and local matters.

The fonds of the Federal Archives are divided into eight main departments:

B: Central Archive of the Helvetic Republic 1798–1803

Comprises all the files of the legislative, executive and judicial central power of the Helvetic Republic as well as the correspondence of the subordinate cantonal, district and municipal authorities.

C: Archive of the Mediation Period 1803–1813

Contains the files of the Mediation period. i.e. the “Tagsatzung” (Federal Diet; legislative and executive council), the “Landammann” (chief official), the Chancellery, the staff officers and military commanders of the then federal authorities as well as Switzerland’s diplomatic and consular representatives abroad.

D: Archive of the Tagsatzung Period 1814–1848

Comprises all the documents of the Tagsatzung period. i.e. the Tagsatzung itself, the “Vorort” (chief canton, rotating), the Chancellery, various commissioners, representatives and arbitrators, the military supervisory authority and war council, the general staff as well as Switzerland’s diplomatic and consular representatives abroad.

E: Archive of the Federal State since 1848

Continually growing archive comprising all documents of the federal administration. These are increasingly produced and archived in electronic form. The approximately 2,000 sub-fonds on the Federal State since 1848 are divided thematically into nine sections in the Swiss Archives online database. This facilitates searches for relevant (sub-)fonds on a particular topic (e.g. justice or health).

J: Deposits and Donations

Contains private archives and bequests of individuals that have shaped the history of the Federal State, and of legal entities (companies, organisations, etc.) of importance for Switzerland as a whole.

K: Acts and Charters

Contains international treaties, notarised documents and exchanges of notes of a contractual nature.

M: Collections

Contains materials on various events, topics and individuals of importance to recent Swiss history, as well as documents created in connection with special mandates, publications, exhibitions etc. of the Federal Archives.

P: Copies

Consists of copies, microfilms, photocopies, regesta and inventories on Swiss history from other archives and libraries in Switzerland and abroad.

Language and script

The majority of the documents in the Federal Archives are in German; some are in French and a few in Italian.

German-language files from the 19th and early 20th centuries were mostly written in the Sütterlin or Kurrent scripts, and printed matter in the Fraktur script, none of which are still in common usage.

Last modification 10.12.2015

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Swiss Federal Archives

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Swiss Federal Archives

Archivstrasse 24
3003 Bern

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Print contact