Swiss Genealogy

Guest Post - Was Your Ancestor a Russian Student in Switzerland?

Screenshot 2024-02-17 at 18.49.23

Dear Readers, once again our good friend, the excellent genealogist,  Isabelle Haemmerle, sends a superbly informative post from Geneva.

Archives of Swiss universities : lists of students on line 1874-1975

While assisting an American woman looking for the birth certificates of her distant cousins born in Geneva, I came across some interesting sources that could be useful in finding out more about your ancestors from the Russian Empire.

Indeed, the children in question, Sophie and Frederik, were born in 1908 and 1910 in Plainpalais - today a district of Geneva - to a couple originally from Ekarinoslav in Russia, and the father's job stated that he was a student. This was a good start for a case study in the large Russian community of the time.

During the 18th century, Russia, under the rule of Catherine the Great, was influenced by its Western neighbors and modernized its administration, education, army and technology. Aristocrats began to travel in Europe, mainly to Italy, Germany, France and England, but also to Switzerland, as part of their Grand Tour. They visited the enchanting landscape of Lake Geneva, the setting for Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Nouvelle Héloïse, a kind of literary tourism avant la lettre. In the second half of the 19th century, many Russians settled and stayed in Switzerland for an extended period. It was fairly easy to obtain a residence permit and Russians speak German and French making it easy to settle in a tranquil and neutral country. Political exiles took refuge in Geneva or Zurich, artists came in search of inspiration and a great number of young people looking for emancipation or prevented from studying in Russia applied in Swiss universities.

At the end of the 19th century, Switzerland counted seven universities for three million inhabitants: foreign students were therefore welcome to fill the faculty benches; up to 65 % of the alumni around 1890 were foreign. As the quota policy prevented the non-orthodox students to study in Russia, the subjects from the minorities of the Russian Empire – Jewish, catholic or lutherian (Germans of Russia) who were living in a restricted residence zone (Ukraine, Poland, Finland and Baltics) and who could afford it turned to study abroad.

From 1867 onward, it is interesting to note that young women from Russia enrolled in large numbers at the university of Zurich and a few years later at Geneva and Bern universities (1872) when those establishments opened to women. Then Lausanne, Basel, Neuchâtel and Fribourg followed.

The female students were deprived of a university education in Russia and most often in Switzerland they picked science and medicine studies in particular as they wish to improve the destiny of their fellow compatriots once back in Russia. At the turn of the 20th century, 80% of the enrolled female students were foreign and 85% came from Russia.

The historian Natalia Tikhonov-Sigrist studied the presence of foreign female students in western universities. She wrote: “according to my estimates, based on onomastics and place of origin, Jewish female students made up at least 62% of all female students from the Russian Empire enrolled at Swiss universities before 1920.

As I was working on the case of the cousins born in Geneva to a Russian couple, I found numerous lists of students with their nationality and their address. It indeed illustrated the fact that the Russian community lived in the Carouge area in Plainpalais close to the Arve river and known as Little Russia. Housing there was cheap and close to the university.

According to the Swiss canton, the individual rights law can affect the diffusion of online lists of students. If it is not available on line such as for UNIGE ( University of Geneva), for UNIL (University of Lausanne) and UZH ( University of Zurich) you can contact or visit the universities of other cantons and will encounter helpful archivists. You will find below, Dear Readers, the information for each one.

 

University of Geneva (UNIGE)

University of Lausanne (UNIL)

University of Zurich (UZH):

On Matrikeledition, you can consult the online lists in German: you can search by name and, surprisingly, there are pages dedicated to women (Frauen: sortiert nach Namen).
The listings show the student's date of birth, gender, enrolment date, subject studied, nationality and enrolment number. Even more interesting: when you click on the student's name, you get more information: place of birth, previous place of study, semesters of study, parents' names, and even dissertation title.

University of Bern (UNIBE):

Possibility to consult the lists on site at the library:

Universitätsbibliothek Bern
Bibliothek Münstergasse
Münstergasse 61
3011 Bern
Schweiz

 Please find below the links to the index

University of Basel (UNIBAS) has deposited its archives at the local State Archives of Basel-Staadt. Possibility to consult on site at the following address: Martinsgasse 2, 4051 Basel

Online archive catalog of the Basel-Stadt State Archives

University of Fribourg (UNIFR)

Possibility to consult the lists on site at the Archives of the university with appointment 3 weeks in advance:

Archives de l'Université

MIS06 - Bureau MIS6102
Av. Europe 20
CH-1700 Fribourg

 

University of Neuchâtel (UNINE):

 

 

Some more readings:

 Natalia Tikhonov Sigrist holds a PhD in History and civilization from the University of Geneva / Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales

https://books.openedition.org/pumi/13246

Etudiants de l’Exil Patrick Ferté, Caroline Barrera - p 105 -118

A Russian pioneer in Swiss universities  – July 27, 2021 – RTS:

https://www.swissinfo.ch/fre/economie/blog-du-mus%C3%A9e-national-suisse_une-pionni%C3%A8re-russe-dans-les-universit%C3%A9s-suisses/46711984

 https://www.ch-cultura.ch/de/archiv/museum-ausstellung-galerie/la-petite-russie-dans-les-pas-de-lenine-a-plainpalais

 

Thank you SO much, Isabelle!


GUEST POST - News From the State Archives of Geneva - AEG

Dear Readers, our good friend, the excellent genealogist,  Isabelle Haemmerle, sends exciting news from Geneva:

We are pleased to forward good news from Geneva. Last February the State Archives of Geneva (AEG) announced that the parish and vital records from 1542 to 1880 have been fully digitalized and are accessible on the Adhemar database. It represents 449,000 pictures from 2,200 record books.

Up to 1798, we can find mention of a baptism or marriage in the parish books recorded by ministers in the City of Geneva. Deaths were recorded in the « Book of the Dead ( le Livre des morts) » by the « Visitors of the Dead (visiteurs des morts) » who were employed by the Hospital and were given training. In the countryside, ministers were in charge of the recording, or registering. In 1798, Geneva became part of France and, from then, the vital records - birth, marriage and death - were registered by officials of each commune.

AEG - EC Morts 5 - Livre des Morts 3 june 1562AEG - EC Morts 5 - Livre des Morts 3 June 1562

In a presentation of the State Archives of Geneva – AEG - that was posted here a few years ago, we explained you how to find a family name on the website of the Swiss family names repertory, which enumerates the families who held the citizenship of a Swiss commune in 1962. It provides:

    • the commune of origin or bourgeoisie
    • the date of bourgeoisie acquisition
    • the place of origin location ( France or other location, ex. NE for Neuchatel)

In the AEG parish and vital records, you will find only events located in the Canton of Geneva :

    • birth records until 31 December 1899
    • marriage records until 31 December 1929
    • death records until 31 December 1959

As mentioned above,  these are online only up to 1880. After that year, the search can only be done in the reading room of the AEG.

If you do not know the exact date of the events, you can review alphabetical indexes - répertoires or tables : the volumes cover a period of 4 to 10 years and indicate the dates of birth, marriage or death along with the vital record number where the original certificate is registered.
Geneva archives give also access to some Protestant parish record books of towns in the neighborhood of Geneva that are now within French territory in the Pays de Gex : Cessy, Segny, Sauverny, Collonges, Farges, Divonne, Grilly, Crassier, Moëns et Lyon (on microfilm).

«Communes réunies» Index (1599-1877)

As Geneva was historically a Protestant land, the Catholic parishes flourished on its borders and were called « communes réunies » (towns that were transferred by France in 1815 and by the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1816). A special index is used as birth, marriage and death tables for events having taken place in those towns before the end of 18th century (1599-1798). Three more tables online complete the period of 1792 to 1877.

The «Communes réunies» are:

    • Aire-la-Ville
    • Anières
    • Avusy
    • Bardonnex
    • Bernex
    • Bellevue
    • Carouge
    • Chêne-Thônex
    • Choulex
    • Collex-Bossy
    • Collonge-Bellerive
    • Compesières
    • Confignon
    • Corsier
    • Grand-Saconnex
    • Hermance
    • Laconnex
    • Lancy
    • Meinier
    • Meyrin
    • Onex
    • Perly-Certoux
    • Plan-les-Ouates
    • Pregny
    • Presinge
    • Puplinge
    • Soral
    • Troinex
    • Vernier
    • Versoix
    • Veyrier

AEG - EC rép 1.87.4 Image 65 - Communes Réunies Index - Birth of Daniel Duby in Collex on 12 may 1688AEG - EC rép 1.87.4 Image 65 - Communes Réunies Index - Birth of Daniel Duby in Collex on 12 May 1688

 

An extra help: nominative lists 1939-1945 of civilian or military refugees and Swiss expatriates back home

If you look for a person who might have been a refugee in Switzerland during WWII, you can check an interesting source given through the nominative lists of civilian or military refugees. They contain the surname, first name, date of birth and nationality of over 25,000 people checked at the Franco-Genevan border during the Second World War. Scroll down and read the detailed information about the lists translated in English.

New building site for the State Archives of Geneva in 2025

In spring 2025, the Archives de l’État de Genève currently located in the old Arsenal building in the old town and other departments spread across Geneva will all move to a new Hotel des Archives site to be built in the conservation area of Arsenal, rue de l’Ecole de Medecine in the cultural Plainpalais district. Thirty linear kilometers of archives will be transferred during two years to the two-storey basement. The work started in December 2020 and the plans show a reading room looking onto a renovated and landscaped yard. We are looking forward to present it to you, dear Readers!

Image new AEG building

 

New AEG Reading Room

Not to be missed if you come to Geneva this year : an exhibition « Zigzag archivistique» presents a photographic tour through the current storage facility to keep an «archive of archives» before the moving.


Where: Archives d’État de Genève, 1, rue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville
When : 25 March 2022 - 30 Avril 2023 - Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm - July and August: 9am -5pm

 

20220324-aeg-zz-visuel


Guest Post - Au Revoir Monsieur! Part 2

Annecy

We are most gratified by the positive response and messages from you, Dear Readers about the first installment in this series of guest posts by the talented and experienced researcher and genealogist, Madame S.  We are confident that you will find this second installment to be equally interesting and intriguing, and that, as you follow her research story, you will discover hints and detailed knowledge that will inform your own genealogical research.

 

Episode 2: On the traces of Felix the confectioner

Genealogy search is a long-term process and as you may know very time consuming. Specially if you decide to chase a fellow who was born in a remote hamlet on the hills of the French Alps and who supposedly ended up to be a sweet tooth artist in Egyptian palaces. A new clue disperses the frustrating feelings of lengthy sessions in front of your computer screen consulting mechanically the online records to eventually find the evidence - click on, click on, click on - or waiting for answers from specialists, archivists or kin. When my grandmother suggested that Félix the confectioner had gone to Geneva for training, it was as an illumination to me, a big step forward. We kissed each other good bye, both of us pleased but for different reasons...she would not miss a Scrabble meeting!

On my way home, I planned to go the Archives d’État de Genève (Archives of State of Geneva) as soon as possible. The following day, I was climbing up the streets of the old town of Geneva towards the old Arsenal building - and its famous five canons - where the Archives were located. I entered an impressive room with high-beamed ceiling and shelves full of dated volumes. I had no idea of where to start and exposed my doubt to the pleasant archivist in charge that day: “You are looking for a foreigner so the first thing to do is to check the Permis de séjour (resident permits) records which are chronologically filed,”she explained to me. I did not know Felix’s year of arrival in Geneva but luckily she handed me an old carton box with alphabetical index cards.

 

Index card box Marie Félix

 

I was thrilled...there lay a chance to continue the search or...to hit a wall! I started to look for Felix’s name in the B cards. Fantastic! Here was his name B. so I kept going with excitement: B. Antoine, B. Claude, B. Elise Marie, B. Joseph….oh! no! I went over the F letter for Felix…. What a disappointment! It was not possible! He had to be there and suddenly it struck me that his full first names was Marie Félix. In the past the last of a person's first names was the one used and funny enough for us nowadays his first one was Marie (Mary). I got my breath back and resumed my search. Eureka! I had found him! B. Marie-Félix born in 1843, from Rumilly (Savoie).

 

Index card B. Marie-Félix

 

He had arrived in 1861 and had been registered in the Dh15 record. It was then easy to find the entrance and I delightedly discovered the following information:

 

  • N° resident permit 36247
  • Date of permission: 20 February 1861
  • Renewal of permit: 3 months by 3 months during 4 years
  • Cost: 75
  • Age : 6 9bre 1843 (I first read 9bre as September but (I had no doubt: it was him! )
  • Origin: Rumilly (Savoie)
  • Profession: pâtissier (baker)
  • Adress: Rive 201 chez Duburger
  • Departure: destination Paris on 30 March 1865

 

Etrangers Dh15 Marie Félix

 

This chart shows the old abbreviations for months:Abréviations mois

 

I had made tremendous progress: I knew now that Félix had moved to Geneva during the 1861 winter and that he had been living there four years. He was listed as a pâtissier, a baker or pastry chef. I was wondering whether the address Rive 201 would be his training place. Following the extra advice of the archivist, I checked the Annuaire général du commerce suisse et des pays étrangers, Almanach des adresses volume 1860 - a Swiss trade directory with addresses and, in the confection-er/baker section, I found Leclerc Fils, rue de Rive 201.

 

Almanach des Adresses 1860 - confiseur pâtissier - AEG

 

What a coincidence! Félix may have been working for Leclerc. I had a good feeling and I enjoyed tracking the address but there was no rue de Rive 201 in modern Geneva. Well! Nothing could stop me now and I found in “the Index of Dénominations and Changes of street names from 1814 to 1926” that the state council has ordered a change to rue de Rive on 28 December 1860 and it concerned the numbering. On an old map of Geneva published by Briquet between 1854 and 1862, I spotted rue de Rive 201 right at the corner of the old trajectory of rue de la Fontaine. And what I discovered struck me: at this exact location, rue de Rive 4 was a chocolate factory which might have been a long time ago the Leclerc fils confectionery but, moreover, it was Auer Chocolaterie, our chocolate-addict address where I frequently bought the most delicious chocolate-powdered almonds. My ancestor Félix might have worked there more than 150 years ago!!!! A damn wink from the past!

Auer

It was time to leave the AEG archives as it was closing for the day. I had now many leads to follow and the most important one was that Félix left Geneva in March 1865 to go to Paris. What did he exactly do in Geneva? How did he find a new job in Paris? How long did he stay before leaving for Egypt? Did he go with his family? I was wondering how to handle the case the most efficiently. Next time I visited my grandmother, I told her of my new findings and my doubts, She tackled my self-questioning with her usual alertness : «You’d better take care of my great-uncle who emigrated to Americas»


During our conversations my grandmother often mentioned one of her mother’s uncles who emigrated in the Americas as she used to say. As he belonged to a poor and large family of 16 children, he supposedly left Annecy and went most probably to Argentina but she was not sure. She even thought that maybe more than one of the children among the eldest had taken the same way. How many? Together? When and where exactly? So many questions she could not answer. But when she was a little girl she remembered her father coming back home with a letter from the Court and announcing to her mother: “ You know, you have an uncle who died in America” and that’s all, he had gone to America: AU RE-VOIR MONSIEUR, that’s all! To my sister she gave another version: one uncle had actually sailed back to France and died on board the ship after being robbed. I imagine her adding with her little mischievous smile: “maybe he was rich and we are related to a wealthy family in America!”


A couple of months later, we lost our grand-maman. I owed it to her to investigate the uncle and I promised myself that I will! I was facing a new adventure and I will be thrilled to share it with you in the next episode….

 

©2020 Madame S.

French Genealogy


Guest Post - Au revoir Monsieur! Part 1

Annecy

1. A story of love, ties, roots and jam...

Here is a story of love, ties, roots and jam...My grandmother passed away five years ago, one month before her 94th birthday. She was an energetic, blue-eyed, lovely lady full of life, with daughters, sons, grandchildren and G-grandchildren. Had she lived a few more months, she would have met her G-G-granddaughter born in Rio de Janeiro. I am certain that you already can visualize a beautiful descendant tree for her, extending its branches from France to Brazil.

She was an educated woman who worked her whole life as clerc de notaire in her husband’s notarial office but family was her main preoccupation. I spent countless delightful summer afternoons in her company making her famous apricot jam and climbing up and down the ladder of the generations of our family tracing a first cousin once removed who died at the age of five, the G-G-grandfather who emigrated in the Levant to be a confiseur (confectioner) or my latest new born cousin, with whom I share my four grandparents. At an early age I already had in mind my family tree and I believe that this time with my grandmother was my first step towards my interest in genealogy. Many years later our dear friend Anne became my guide.

Born in Annecy, in the French department of Haute-Savoie, close to the Swiss border and the town of Geneva, my grandmother pleasantly claimed herself to be “Savoyarde” more often than French. As a matter of fact, the duchy of Savoy, part of the kingdom of Sardinia was annexed to France in 1860,1 a pretty recent date for a woman born in the beginning of the 20th century. Our story will take us back to the Sardinian time of Annecy where my search begins and where treasure can be found in the Archives Départementales de Haute-Savoie

It is now time to open the case and to follow the fragile hints I gathered to begin my investigations.

During our conversations my grandmother often mentioned various generations not only of her family but of her husband’s as well. She had an acute vision of all members of both ascendant trees: a story was running about my dear grandfather’s family that we, his grandchildren, considered as a pure legend: that our great-grandfather had been a confectioner to Ismael Pasha, viceroy of Egypt ! In a family of notaries, lawyers or pharmacists in the conservative, peaceful, mountainous town of Annecy, this ancestor seemed an alien! While it was well known to our grandparent's generation that many young people had fled from Savoie in the 19th century due to poverty and lack of work,2 for we children, this G-Grandfather was a fanciful figure who faded away to an exotic country. Later, when our dear Anne began to tell me how genealogy searches could take us through delightful and brilliant stories, I remembered Félix the confectioner. I was now living in Switzerland so close to his homeland, I decided to chase him to know more about him and his adventures in the Levant…

What did I know about him? Felix B. was the father of my mother’s grandmother (or, my maternal grandfather's maternal grandfather) who died in La Roche sur Foron, 30 km from Annecy and he had three children. My G-grandmother Louise was the youngest, born in 1891, many years after her two brothers Laurent and Louis (1878-1889): she was a consolation to her mother Annette who lost her second son at the age of ten from rubella, my grandmother always added when talking about the deceased young boy. And it was certainly the case, as she bore the female name of her late brother. The dates I got would match: she was born 2 years after his death. There were inconsistent elements about the date of Felix’s journey to Egypt. Before or after his son’s death? It was important to get a clear idea of the chronology.

I had to dig for Félix’s birth, marriage and death certificates. Thanks to the pictures of La Roche sur Foron cemetery transcriptions that my grand mother had recorded on her birthday notebook, I knew that he was born in 1843 and died in 1914. It was a good lead but it needed to be confirmed. Félix was most probably living in La Roche Sur Foron when he died so I had sufficient elements to begin. As I did not know his exact date of death, I checked the website of the Archives Départementales de Haute-Savoie to find the alphabetical decennial tables in the death register of La Roche sur Foron but none existed for 1914. To avoid to lose too much time, I had to find that date and Geneanet gave me the clue. Searching for Félix’s name, the city and the date of 1914, I got two results and one was an obituary stating that Félix died on Sunday 11 January 1914. It was moving to read these lines and informative. It revealed that he died suddenly at the age of 71 year old - which actually implied the 1843 birth date - and showed that Félix was a public figure of the town of La Roche sur Foron..I noticed that there was an alphabetical table at the end of the 1914 volume which could have given the exact death date...I would remember to check next time. I learned by reading the death certificate that:

• his full name was Marie Félix B.
• his birth date 6 November 1843 ( just like my daughter many years later... !)
• the birth place in Saint Maurice, a village nearby
• his wife’s name was Annette C.

I easily found the birth certificate online in the birth records of Saint Maurice de Rumilly but I now needed to spot his marriage certificate as it would gather a lot of information from his adult life. Nothing was recorded under his name on the website of the local genealogical association that I joined, Les Marmottes de Savoie. But I found there some information about the village and its change of name from Saint Maurice to Saint Maurice de Rumilly to finally be attached to Saint Pierrre en Faucigny in 1965. It will be helpful to surf on the records online for further searches.

I checked the Saint Maurice de Rumilly decennial tables for the marriage period I estimated could be between 1863 (Felix would be 20) and 1878 (birth of the second child). Here they were!, Félix and Annette. Married on the 16 September 1874. It was simple to get the 3 folios record in the 1874 marriage register. Next day I visited my grandmother and discussed with her my findings. Felix was born in the Saint Maurice village in 1843, married Annette at 31 in 1874 and died in La Roche sur Foron, the town nearby in 1914. But how could I trace him as a confectioner in Egypt? I felt lost and a bit disappointed. Suddenly my grandmother added: “ You know, I remember hearing that he went to Geneva to get a training in baking and confectionery” Wouahhh! What a great new thread to follow!!! I had now my investigation agenda for the following days in the right city where I was living….

 

©2020 Madame S.

French Genealogy

1 See our post on when Savoie joined France here.

2Read about the Savoyards who went to Paris, hoping to escape poverty, here.


Five Hundred Years of Protestantism - A Guest Post

Côté chaire  côté rue Affiche

 

Our good friend, the genealogist, Isabelle Haemmerle, sends this from Geneva:

 

The exhibition "Côté chaire côté rue" presented at the Archives of the State of Geneva is to be extended until March 2018. Held in the context of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation (1517), it presents the effects of the religious activity and the spread of Protestant ideas on the daily life of Geneva. The presentation of a digitalisation project and the restoration of the archives of the Protestant Church complete this exhibition and highlight the historical work linked to the archives.

 

Reformation

 

In the XVI century, the Churches and States made concerted efforts throughout Europe to systematically register births, marriages and deaths, thereby providing the embryo of what would later become the civil state. In Geneva the series of civil registers is continuous as of the time in 1550 when cupboards were integrated in the pulpits for the pastors to keep these precious books.

These registers must not be seen as merely an administrative activity. While they effectively provided knowledge of the state of the population – in Geneva they were used very early to establish statistics on plague deaths – and if private citizens had an interest as these documents allowed them to identify their legitimate heirs – their use was primarily religious. It was not individuals who were registered as so many constituents, as the believers called upon to follow a Christian path in the community of Salvation formed by the parish. In Geneva, before the last quarter of the XVI century, it was not the date of birth that the ministers entered in these registers, but that of baptism, which marked the new-borns’ entry into the community of the parish where they would thereafter be required to attend services.

The civil register, as it was seen at the time, therefore made up a sort of collective accounting and consequently it is not surprising to read other things that our contemporaries did not expect to find: the ministers were not satisfied to just enter the names of the faithful whose lives make up the warp of this accounting, but entered many other things such as important events for the parish or instructions for their successors.

To implement the exhibition, historians have studied the sources, here the Council registers, the Church archives, criminal trials, parish registers and the ancient works in the AEG library.

This display presents the Council registers and the archives of the Protestant Church of Geneva.

Digitizing
1- The Council registers: they form the main source for anyone interested in the history of Geneva. They comprise the registers containing the decisions, and their annexes, from the executive and legislative authorities of the Community of Citizens and Bourgeois, then City and Republic, then Republic and Canton of Geneva. Today these would be the minutes of the Council of State. This series has been preserved constantly since 1409 up to the present day, which is quite unique in Europe, with an interruption during the French period (1798-1813).
The registers from the years 1409 to 1541 have been edited, meaning that they have been transcribed, annotated and published.

2- The Church archives: In order to prepare an exhibition on Geneva at the time of the reformation, it is obviously essential to study the archives produced by the Church itself. Since 1937 these documents have been preserved in the State Archives.


On November 20th, 1541, the General Council (the assembly of citizens) adopted the Ecclesiastical Ordinances. These Ordinances organized Church life by instituting four functions or ministries: the Pastors, Doctors, Elders and Deacons. It created two new organs: the Company of Pastors and the Consistory which were to produce documents and hence archives.

The Church archives consist of two principal collections:

1. The Consistory archives (1542-1929)

The Elders formed the Consistory: it was a chamber composed of twelve pastors and twelve members of the government, presided by one of the supreme magistrates. There was a secretary who was responsible for taking the minutes of the meetings. The Elders, according to Article 37 of the Ordinances, must be divided amongst the various neighbourhoods of the city at a rate of one Elder per thousand inhabitants, “to keep an eye on everything”. The Consistory is charged with the surveillance of the behaviour of individuals, to admonish deviant practices and beliefs, to arbitrate conflicts between individuals and to obtain their amendment in cases of indiscipline. This sort of moral and matrimonial court could only pronounce ecclesiastical sentences, meaning the denial of communion. In cases requiring criminal sanctions, the guilty party was deferred to the Small Council. The Consistory met every Thursday.

The Consistory registers provided a very rich source for studying the numerous aspects of Geneva’s history. While Consistories have been introduced in all the Reformed Churches, it is rare to find a collection with registers of this scope and continuity for the entirety of the Old Regime (more than 90 registers). Numerous affairs are to be found in them concerning beliefs and religious practices, sexuality and marriage and all matters related to them: promises of marriage, fornication, adultery and divorce; but other subjects are also to be found such as drunkenness, blasphemy, usury, begging, dance and song, healers and seers, gambling, etc. It is through these minutes that little by little a certain image of popular culture may be perceived: the Genevan social fabric and the morality of the Geneva at this time.

2. The archives of the Company of Pastors (1546-1944)

The Company of Pastors comprised all the ministers in Geneva, not only those in the city but also those in the countryside. The principle competences of the Company of Pastors were the doctrine and instruction. It keeps watch on the orthodoxy of its members, regulates worship, presents future ministers and teachers to the authorities, organizes charity, controls printed materials and maintains relations with other Reformed Churches. The Company of Pastors meets on Fridays; its deliberations and decisions are consigned in writing by a secretary. The minutes of the Company of Pastors’ meetings provide study material of great diversity, that sheds light on religious history and also on the social history of Geneva, more specifically on the elaboration of ecclesiastical discipline in the new Church, the difficulties encountered in its organisation, education and exchanges with other countries. The questions debated by the Company of Pastors were of a more international character than those discussed in the Consistory; it was there that the questions posed by the Churches of France and elsewhere were discussed and where it was decided what response should be returned to them.

The Archives of the State of Geneva maintain, restore and digitalise the documents that historians use in their work.

When digitalising old series, the original documents are of course retained. The State Archives have a digitalisation workshop. The protestant Church of Geneva deposited a first part of its historical archives with AEG in 1937. These documents, the oldest dating from 1542 and much consulted, were no longer in a condition that met with the rules governing preservation and consultation.
To address the problem, ARRCC, the Association for the restoration and digitalisation of the Consistory and the Company was created in 2012 with the goal of raising the funds necessary for the preservation of the Church’s archives. In this way, through this project led by AEG, the 182 registers of the Consistory and the Company of Pastors’ minutes are in the process of being restored and have been digitalised (XVI-XIX centuries). They can be accessed on-line at Adhemar, the AEG database.

Exhibition at The Archives of the State of Geneva(AEG)

Côté chaire, côté rue. La Réforme à Genève 1517-1617 - The Reformation in Geneva 1517-1617

Extension of the exhibition to March 1 2018
AEG - rue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville 1

[email protected]

Tel: + 41 022 327 93 20

 

Thank you, Isabelle!

Those who wish to contact Isabelle to know more about genealogy in Geneva may do so by writing to her at: genhaemm (AT) gmail (DOT) com