In future you will be able to consult every dossier from the Federal Archives online, with analogue dossiers being digitised to order. The Federal Archives are implementing this vision in two projects: one for the web portal and one for the digitisation infrastructure. This page includes a timetable and project news.
The Federal Archives online – any time, anywhere
The Swiss Federal Archives are working on a project that will allow you to access the full range of archival services online, wherever and whenever you want. You will be able to receive information, carry out research, read documents, place digitisation orders, submit requests to consult records and view dossiers (both analogue and digital) online. In the medium term, visits to the reading room will no longer be necessary.
For the general public: The Federal Archives provides a comprehensive online access service featuring expanded search options that also works on mobile devices.
For the administration: Thanks to improved rights management, submitting authorities will have easier access to their own
Online access to the Federal Archives was developed via two projects: one for the web portal, and one for the infrastructure used to digitise analogue dossiers when they are ordered.
Online access was implemented in two stages. Since the web portal went live in 2019, the Federal Archives have been able to deliver some orders in digital form. The reading room remains available. At the end of 2021, the digitisation infrastructure was completed and capacity increased.
|End of 2018
|Completion of development work
|Access for individual pilot users
|Online access to the Federal Archives available to all users
|Completion of the digitisation infrastructure
The Federal Archives will be progressively expanding online access between now and 2025. The digital offerings will be geared to the needs of customers from both the general public and the administration. The SFA will also be increasing and improving digitisation on demand, making all documents that are ordered available online in order to accommodate the sharp increase in usage. By 2025, online access anytime and anywhere will be the standard for archived information.
04.12.2023 New release of the online access to the AFS (V.184.108.40.2063)
With the integration of an appointment booking system, workstations in the reading room can now be reserved directly during the ordering process. The system replaces the previous reservation by e-mail or telephone. This advancement enables the reading room team and the logistics department at the Federal Archives to better manage the workstations and make the documents available more efficiently.
12.02.2023 New release of online access to the SFA (V.220.127.116.113)
The major innovation of version 18.104.22.1683 is the implementation of an IIIF viewer. On the one hand, this provides a modern online viewer, and on the other hand, users can now consult digitised material without a user account or login. For the time being, documents that are freely accessible and older than 50 years are displayed in the viewer.
As part of the maintenance, Angular was updated from version 12 to 14 and Wijmo-Grid from version 5.20213.824 to version 5.20221.857 and the new version of the identification service "Fidentity" was integrated.
16.10.2022 New release of online access to the SFA (V.22.214.171.1247)
The current version implements a new identification service. The service of fidentity AG is available around the clock and uses artificial intelligence for the online identification process.
12.09.2022 New release of online access to the SFA (V. 126.96.36.1997)
The "anonymisation release" will allow you to search and access online metadata for an additional 1.4 million dossiers in a legally compliant way. Using artificial intelligence, sensitive data is automatically anonymised (e.g. as the dossier title “Criminal proceedings ███”).
Further information on the anonymisation service can be found under Searching.
10.01.2022 New release of online access to the SFA (V. 188.8.131.521)
In addition to further stabilising data preparation (for large files) and adding extra automation steps at the back end, this release also includes a range of process optimisations requested by online access users. For example, they can click on a button to download the metadata from their results and favourites lists as XLS files, and edit and save them as they wish. Further automations have also been implemented at the back end, and maintenance work carried out on various components (e.g. new versions of Elasticsearch and ABBYY).
14.12.2021 Digitisation infrastructure complete
A digitisation infrastructure and online access have been in operation at the Federal Archives since the end of 2019, and the infrastructure has been expanded and improved in the intervening period. The complete digitisation infrastructure came into operation at the SFA on 14 December 2021, meaning that analogue documents can be progressively digitised on demand. After they have been ordered once, dossiers will now be available to our customers permanently in digital form, unless they are still within a closure period. The set-up and processes of the SFA’s on-site digitisation infrastructure have been ergonomically optimised to provide the best possible support to our staff in their work.
16.07.2021 New Release of the online access (V.184.108.40.2064)
- Optimisation of data preparation: The emphasis in this release is on optimising data preparation. The new version makes indexing for searches, text recognition (OCR) and preparation of data packages faster and more stable. The optimisations will mean shorter waiting times for digitisation orders for users of the web portal.
- More automation at the back end: We have received many suggestions from external and internal users for ways to improve the web portal. Release V.220.127.116.114 implements some further measures that will allow Federal Archives staff to work more efficiently at the back end. They include further steps to automate orders and so speed these processes up.
- Editable order wizard and improved presentation under “News”: It is now easier to keep the information in the order process up to date, giving users a better indication of current waiting times for digitisation orders. The new version of the web portal also supports the Markdown format in the “News” section on the homepage, allowing news items to be presented in a more user friendly way.
We look forward to receiving your feedback at email@example.com.
23.04.21 Continuing development of online access Over the coming years, the Federal Archives will continue developing their online access service, including viewers, optimisation of data preparation, and integration of official publications. Wherever possible, developments will be implemented using open-source software on GitHub.
21.09.2020 Prototype data challenge The Federal Archives’ data challenge encouraged those with a creative mindset to use the search API and experiment with the metadata. Three prototypes emerged:
GEO UNPLUGGED visualises search results on a map of the world.
- GitHub: https://github.com/powerthx/sfa-challenge
- Author: Tim S. Arnold
The visual platform Mímir can be used to navigate from main department to document in the archive plan. It shows the extent of the fonds at a glance.
- WebApp: https://mimir.si.usi.ch
- GitLab: https://gitlab.reveal.si.usi.ch/_public/mimir
- Authors: Roberto Minelli, Aron Fiechter, Federico Pfahler, Michele Lanza, Davide Paolo Tua (Software Institute, USI - Lugano)
Using a saved search link, the results list download can be used to generate a results list in the form of a CSV file that can be edited locally.
In addition to creating the prototypes, the authors also offered some important suggestions for improving the API. Many thanks for all your hard work!
18.05.2020 Data challenge At the Swiss Federal Archives, we’re looking for creative ways to improve access to our documents. Take up the SFA’s data challenge!
Write an app using our data search API and maybe we’ll incorporate it into the Federal Archives’ online access platform. The challenge runs until 18 August 2020. View the complete tender text (PDF, 2 MB, 18.05.2020).
25.11.2019 Go-Live! Research, digitisation, downloads and advice: online access to the Federal Archives brings all these services together on a single web portal (www.recherche.bar.admin.ch). From today, it is available to all users. In the medium term, the Federal Archives plan to make all documents available in digital form. To this end, the digitisation structure is being further expanded between now and 2021.
22.07.2019 After the summer break we’ll be launching the pilot phase, during which we’ll be opening online access up to selected users. In the meantime, we present some figures about the online access (in german):
28.02.2019 - Slowly but surely, our online access service is nearing completion. Check out the following image gallery for some initial impressions direct from our new platform:
Last modification 04.12.2023