The Old Swiss Confederacy

Alte Eidgenossenschaft Bild Oberthema
Source: CH-BAR#J4.9#1000/1270_386

Many stories – some verified, others fabled – surround the emergence of Switzerland as a nation. Documents from the period prior to the first centralised state of 1798 can also be found in the Swiss Federal Archives.

It is very difficult to establish where Switzerland's origins really lie. In prehistoric times, Celtic Helvetians and other tribes resided in regions that today are a part of Switzerland. The Federal Charter of 1291 and the legend of William Tell are also parts of the historical events and myths surrounding the country's origins. The Swiss Cross, once an identifying military feature of the Swiss Confederation, did not become the official national emblem of modern Switzerland until 1889.

The Swiss Federal Archives have their origins in the Helvetian Republic (1798-1803) and therefore predominantly hold documents dating back to the formation of the first centralised Swiss state. However, the archives also hold a number of documents originating from the period predating 1798.

Table of contents

Last modification 15.10.2015

Top of page


Swiss Federal Archives

Archivstrasse 24
3003 Bern

+41 58 462 89 89
+41 58 462 78 23


Opening hours reading room

Tu-Th, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Details and closing times

Print contact


Swiss Federal Archives

Archivstrasse 24
3003 Bern

Show map

Print contact