- audiovisual documents and photographs
- biographical information
- maps or information about a place, region or locality
- Swiss e-books
- information about a company or association
- genealogical information
- newspapers and periodicals
- specific legal texts, Federal Supreme Court decisions or official texts
- political, economic and cultural information about Switzerland
- help with school-leaving exam essays
Resources for audiovisual documents and photographs
Prints and Drawings DepartmentSince the early 20th century, the Prints and Drawings Department collects photographs, in particular views of places and landscapes as well as portraits.
MemobaseMemobase is the national research portal of Memoriav, the competence centre for Switzerland's audiovisual cultural heritage.
List of Swiss platforms and databases providing access to images, sounds, films and videos:
Resources for biographical information
Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (HDS)Covers the various periods of human history and presents them to a wide audience in easily accessible form.
Base de données des élites suisses au XXème sièclePolitical, economic, administrative and academic elite in the 20th and early 21st century.
- Members of the Federal Council since 1848
SIKARTContains information on artists, their works and exhibitions
Autorinnen und Autoren der Schweiz AdSDirectory of contemporary Swiss writers
SME-MusinfoWeb platform for contemporary Swiss music
fotoCHOnline resource with a biographical dictionary of photographers and a directory of institutions that hold photographic archives and fonds.
Catalogues and biographical databases of the NL:
- Biographical catalogue of newspaper articles (1930-2012)
World Biographical Information System (WBIS Online)The most comprehensive global biographical database from the 8th century to the present. Consultation on site.
Resources for maps or information about a place, region or locality
Map viewer of SwisstopoInteractive presentation of maps and additional information from all the federal offices on a range of subjects.
The Dufour MapThe first official map covering the whole of Switzerland
The Siegfried MapThe original surveys for the Dufour Map were used for the publication of the 1:25 000/1:50 000 Topographic Atlas of Switzerland (Siegfried Map).
Hiking in SwitzerlandSwitzerlandMobility selects routes and hikes and presents them on maps from the Federal Office of Topography.
In the online catalogue Helveticat:
Geological Atlas of SwitzerlandGeological Atlas of Switzerland 1:25 000
- Aeronautical charts ICAO
PLANCATOSwiss cadastral survey, by sheet and commune. Only available for reading-room loan.
Search by keyword in the NL’s Helveticat catalogue to find the maps you are looking for.
HelveticatSearch term ‘Kartenmaterial’, ‘Document cartographique’, ‘Documento cartografico’; to search for electronic records add ‘elektronische’, ‘électronique’ or ‘elettronica’.
It may help to truncate the name of the region.
Online place name portals and sites:
ortsnamen.chNames of places and localities
Glossarium Helvetiae historicum [online edition]Contains a total of 1,400 Swiss place names in German, French, Italian and Romansh.
- Geographisches Lexikon der Schweiz [Digitalisierte Ausgabe]
Namenbuch und FlurnamenforschungGIS Wiki der HSR Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil
Reference works at the NL:
Dictionary of Swiss commune namesDictionnaire toponymique des communes suisses, DTS = Lexikon der schweizerischen Gemeindenamen, LSG = Dizionario toponomastico dei comuni svizzeri, DTS, 2005
New geographical dictionary of SwitzerlandNeues schweizerisches Ortslexikon = Nouveau dictionnaire géographique de la Suisse = Nuovo dizionario geografico della Svizzera, 1983
The geographical name directories of the various cantons and regions are listed in the online catalogue Helveticat:
HelveticatA keyword search using the following terms (sometimes truncated with an asterisk) will find the corresponding documents: “Ortsname*”, “Flurname*”, “lieu-dit”, “lieux-dits”, “toponym*”, “toponim*”, “toponom*” (from Toponomastik, Toponymie or Toponymik, Ortsnamenskunde or -forschung)
Resources for Swiss e-books
The NL does not lend out e-books but many public libraries offer this service. Digital Helvetica can only be consulted on site.
e-Helvetica Accesse-Helvetica provides access to the NL’s digital and digitised collections. Consultation is subject to specific rules to protect copyright.
Bibliothèque numérique romande BNRThe BNR provides digital books of texts in the public domain by authors from the French-speaking part of Switzerland and neighbouring French-speaking regions, translations by Swiss-German and Ticino authors as well as books by foreign authors set in Switzerland.
Nos livres.netFrench-language books in the public domain, available free of charge.
Resources for information about a company or association
Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce (SOGC)Publishes legally prescribed notices and official information
The full gazette can be consulted online via two platforms:
Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce (SOGC), e-periodica
Search for information on a company in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce SOGC (PDF, 120 kB, 12.10.2020)
Other tools for the research on a company
ZefixCentral Business Name Index
- Cantonal registries of commerce
MoneyhouseCommercial register data and business information, updated daily.
List of publications of corporations and associations
Documents and publications from Swiss corporations or associations, companies, industries, schools and cultural institutions, both cantonal and local. The institutions from which we hold documents are contained in this list.
Resources for genealogical information
- Register of Swiss Surnames
- Addresses of archives
Swiss genealogy. DirectorySwiss Society of Genealogical Studies
HelveticatOnline catalogue (OPAC) of the Swiss National Library (NL). Includes all monographs as well as periodicals and newspapers that are still published. The process of cataloguing old newspapers and periodicals is currently still in progress.
- Familienforschung Schweiz : Jahrbuch = Généalogie suisse : annuaire = Genealogie svizzera : annuario (1996-)
Swiss genealogy on the internetThe main online genealogy resources
NL genealogical information
A number of resources can be consulted on site:
Catalogue of family names
Index of genealogical articles that have appeared in serial publications and monographs, in alphabetical order of family names.
Catalogue of genealogical tables
Tables of ancestors, dynasties and family lines of descent; genealogical trees and tables from the Prints and Drawings Department. Consists of three parts: an alphabetical catalogue of authors, a systematic catalogue of family names, and a location catalogue (call numbers).
Index of family coats of arms published in some reference works. This catalogue was updated until 1980.
Resources for newspapers or periodicals
The latest issues of periodicals and newspapers are on display in the public rooms of the NL:
Older issues of newspapers are mostly accessible on microfilm.
Some are available directly online:
e-newspaperarchives.che-newspaperarchives.ch gives access to Swiss newspapers digitized by the Swiss National Library and its cantonal partners
Impresso AppThe «Impresso-App» enables critical text mining of newspaper archives and offers technical tools to extract, process, link, and explore data from print media archives. To use the app, registration is required once.
Newspapers available on microfilm or in digital format
Newspaper titles that are available on paper or another medium, such as microfilm or digital files that can be accessed freely on certain platforms but also from press databases such as Swissdox.
For newspapers that are not available on microfilm or in digital form, the paper version must be ordered from our Helveticat catalogue.
Most older issues of periodicals are listed in our catalogue Helveticat.
Catalogue of serial publications of the NL (“P-Katalog”)
Card index for on-site consultation listing all serials that were catalogued before 2005: newspapers, magazines, series, annual publications (except carnival programmes and corporate publications).
Some older periodicals are accessible directly online:
e-periodicaSwiss journals online platform
Older issues of newspapers and periodicals.
Bibliography on Swiss HistoryReference articles from newspapers and periodicals that are not catalogued in Helveticat, the NL catalogue.
Newspaper and periodical databases
Can be accessed from the NL’s information room and contain complete texts.
Resources for specific legal texts, Federal Supreme Court decisions or official texts
Federal lawFederal laws of the federal administration. English is not an official language of the Swiss Confederation. This translation is provided for information purposes only and has no legal force.
Official publications of the ConfederationThe Federal Archives list a large number of legislative texts that are accessible online.
An overview can be found in the table below.
HDS: Laws The history of legislative developments in Switzerland in the Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
Federal Supreme Court Case lawPortal containing the case law of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court. (In German).
Catalogue of official serial publications
Directory of periodical publications by public sector bodies (Confederation, cantons, communes, churches, etc.). Starting from June 2005, new titles are only listed in Helveticat.
Resources for political, economic and cultural information about Switzerland
Discover SwitzerlandMaintained by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, this website contains general information, charts and dossiers on topics related to Swiss society, history, politics, economics, science, education and the environment.
ch.ch, the portal of the Swiss authoritiesThe portal of the Swiss authorities covers topics such as work and foreign residents in Switzerland, education and research, health and social affairs, mobility, people, security, the state and law.
SWI swissinfo.ch The site of Swiss radio and television’s (SRG SSR) international service, with information in 10 languages on politics, the economy, culture, society, science and technology
Resources for help with school-leaving exam essays
If you want to study a topic related to Switzerland for your school-leaving exam essay, here are some ideas for subjects that might interest you.
Already chosen your topic? We’ll be happy to assist you with your research in the catalogues and databases of our collections and other institutions. We also offer a free library tour for school classes and groups, including a research workshop (in German or French).
Last modification 19.05.2022
Swiss National Library
Information Retrieval Service
Phone +41 58 462 89 35