Switzerland Emigration and Immigration

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Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Offices and Archives to Contact[edit | edit source]

If the canton of origin of a pre-1848 emigrant is known, one can contact the appropriate State Archive for further information. To obtain information concerning emigrants who left after 1848, contact:

Schweizer Bundesregierung
Bundeshaus
CH-3000 Bern, Switzerland

Finding the Town of Origin in Switzerland[edit | edit source]

If you are using emigration/immigration records to find the name of your ancestors' town in Switzerland, see Switzerland Finding Town of Origin for additional research strategies.

The Register of Swiss Surnames[edit | edit source]

Switzerland has one unique feature that can speed up your search for your ancestor's town. Citizenship was held by specific town. The Register of Swiss Surnames is an online tool, based on the reference book, Familiennamenbuch der Schweiz, which lists for every surname the towns where that family held citizenship. It also gives data on the time period the family arrived there and the former town they migrated from. It can, however, give many localities for one surname, so you may still need to look for records that help you narrow down the list. After a thorough search in U.S. records, if you still haven't proven your town, you can begin looking in the records of each town for your surname. However, especially if your searches will involve correspondence or hiring a researcher, it is best to exhaust all U.S. record possibilities before trying that method. Here are the Instructions for using the register.

Switzerland Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

"Emigration" means moving out of a country. "Immigration" means moving into a country.
Emigration and immigration sources list the names of people leaving (emigrating) or arriving (immigrating) in the country. These sources may be passenger lists, permissions to emigrate, or records of passports issued. The information in these records may include the emigrants’ names, ages, occupations, destinations, and places of origin or birthplaces. Sometimes they also show family groups.===Immigration Into Switzerland===

  • As of 2019, resident foreigners make up 25.2% of the population, one of the largest proportions in the developed world. Most of these (64%) were from European Union or EFTA countries. Italians were the largest single group of foreigners, with 15.6% of total foreign population, followed closely by Germans (15.2%), immigrants from Portugal (12.7%), France (5.6%), Serbia (5.3%), Turkey (3.8%), Spain (3.7%), and Austria (2%). Immigrants from Sri Lanka, most of them former Tamil refugees, were the largest group among people of Asian origin (6.3%).
  • Additionally, the figures from 2012 show that 34.7% of the permanent resident population aged 15 or over in Switzerland (around 2.33 million), had an immigrant background. A third of this population (853,000) held Swiss citizenship. Four fifths of persons with an immigration background were themselves immigrants (first generation foreigners and native-born and naturalized Swiss citizens), whereas one fifth were born in Switzerland (second generation foreigners and native-born and naturalized Swiss citizens).[1]

Emigration From Switzerland[edit | edit source]

Swiss Diaspora[edit | edit source]

Some 9% of Swiss citizens live across the globe. Swiss nationals and descendants live in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil and nearby nations of France, Germany, Italy and Austria. In the late 19th century, an immigration settlement program brought tens of thousands of Swiss Germans, ethnic Germans and Austrians alike into southern Chile. Also, West African nations such as Liberia and Ghana are known for several thousands of Swiss expatriates.[2]

Swiss Americans[edit | edit source]

  • During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a flow of Swiss farmers formed colonies, particularly in Russia and the United States.
  • Before the year 1820, some estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Swiss entered British North America. Most of them settled in regions of today's Pennsylvania as well as North and South Carolina.
  • In the next years until 1860, about as many Swiss arrived, making their homes mainly in the Midwestern states such as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. Approximately 50,000 came between 1860 and 1880, some 82,000 between 1881 and 1890, and estimated 90,000 more during the next three decades.
  • In spite of Swiss settlements like Highland (Illinois), New Glarus (Wisconsin), New Bern (North Carolina), Gruetli (Tennessee) and Bernstadt (Kentucky) were emerging fast, most Swiss preferred rural villages of the Midwest and the Pacific Coast where especially the Italian Swiss were taking part in California's winegrowing culture, or then took up residence in more industrial and urban regions such as New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver or San Francisco. As the lifestyle and political institutions of the United States were compliant with those of their homeland most Swiss had no problems starting a new life in their part of the New World and became attached to both countries.
  • Swiss immigration diminished after 1930 because of the depression and World War II, but 23,700 more Swiss had arrived by 1960, followed by 29,100 more between 1961 and 1990, many of whom were professionals or employees in American branches of Swiss companies who later returned to Switzerland.[3]

Swiss Chileans[edit | edit source]

Switzerland Emigration and Immigration – Wiki page with additional larger databases which also include Chileans

  • There are currently 5,000 Swiss citizens residing in Chile, and between 90,000 and 100,000 Swiss descendants, of whom 60,000 are from colonizations sponsored by the State of Chile in 19th century, and another 30,000 are emigrants during World War I and II.
  • Swiss migration to Chile took place at the end of the 19th century, between 1883 and 1900, particularly to the area of Araucanía, especially to Victoria and Traiguén. It is estimated that more than 8,000 Swiss families received grants of land.
  • The Federal Council in 1881 authorized specialized agencies to operate in Switzerland to recruit migrants.
  • The first group was composed of 1311 families who landed in a Chilean port 19 December 1883. Between 1883 and 1886 12,602 people, representing 7% of emigration from Switzerland overseas, traveled to the territory of Araucanía. The operations continued until 1890, when it was recorded that 22,708 Swiss had come to the heart of the Araucania.
  • Between 1915 and 1950, after the last recorded mass exodus of Swiss to Chile 30,000 Swiss residents were found to be installed in the central area of the country, primarily in Santiago and Valparaiso.[4]

Records of Swiss Emigrants in Their Destination Nations[edit | edit source]

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.png One option is to look for records about the ancestor in the country of destination, the country they immigrated into. See links to immigration records for major destination countries below.

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

There are additional sources listed in the FamilySearch Catalog:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Switzerland", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switzerland, accessed 8 June 2021.
  2. "List of diasporas", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_diasporas#S, accessed 8 June 2021.
  3. "Swiss Americans," in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_Americans, accessed 8 June 2021.
  4. "Immigration to Chile", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_Chile, accessed 25 May 2021.