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Staatsarchiv des Kantons Bern

and the new regulations effective 1 Jan 2004

First the bad news, then the good:

The bad news:

In response to a recent severe budget crunch in Switzerland and particularly in Canton Bern, a government task force was set up to look for ways to cut Canton Bern's spending. Responding to one of the task force's recommendations, the cantonal government decreed that the Staatsarchiv des Kantons Bern must stop providing services to genealogists effective 1 Jan 2004. This decision was among a great many other cost cuts it decreed, most of them being cuts of much larger size in other parts of the Bernese government. Although the cuts in the Staatsarchiv budget are not large in terms of the total cantonal budget, their effect on those of us who are genealogists is quite significant. Henceforth Swiss researchers will be able to go to the Staatsarchiv only on Fridays, only three times per year, and only to research their own families, and in addition the microfilm machines and other resources available to them will be even more limited than in the past.

Since the Staatsarchiv des Kantons Bern holds only the ''old'' Kirchenbucher (church books which date from prior to 1 Jan 1876), this new decision does not affect Bernese genealogical research in the various Zivilstandsamt - the regional offices which hold the later records covering the period from 1 Jan 1876 to the present time. These more recent records are already under Swiss federal privacy laws, and thus the newer records are already effectively off-limits to Americans. Since the ancestors of most Americans of Swiss descent came to America prior to 1876, the Zivilstandsamt limitations are not now of major importance, nor have they been in the past.

The good news:

With the cooperation of Staatsarchiv des Kantons Bern, a new Swiss genealogical research organization, SwissGenealogy.com, has been established near Bern to make up for the changes in Swiss regulations concerning genealogical research.

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