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Ticino Researchers
Posted by: A. John Parker (ID *****7351) Date: March 11, 2005 at 10:54:22
  of 41

G'day Oscar,

You and I last had contact in February 2003 and I have just seen your request on the DIGEST. Welcome again to we Ticino researchers international. I am not sure that anything here will be new to you but it's worth a try.
There are two spellings, referring to the people from the canton of Ticino, to be aware of -

1. the word ‘ticinese’ (ending in ‘e’) is an adjective describing the noun ‘ticinesi’ - as in, "The ticinese people of Switzerland (i. e. describing the people's ethnic or geographic origin)"

2. the word ‘ticinesi’ (ending in ‘i’) is a plural noun - like in, "The Ticinesi" (i.e. the people of the canton).

You will find that any Europeans speaking the Romance/Latin-based languages do NOT capitalise the words ‘ticinese/i’ and therefore use a lower case ‘t.’ Whereas the English-speaking and the Germanic peoples DO capitalise the word, using an upper case ‘T.’

Also, the Italian-speaking and English-speaking world refers to the Canton of "Ticino" whereas the French- and German-speaking peoples call it "Tessin."

The people in another part of Switzerland, the Poschiavo Valley in Canton Grissons/or Graubunden (to the east of Ticino, near Austria), also speak Italian but you can generally ignore this canton unless I find the surname(s) you are researching coming from amongst these ‘Poschiavini’ instead of from Canton Ticino. Swiss cantons are similar to other States/Territories and Provinces worldwide BUT they have much more independence, and a looser tie with the federation of geographic areas which makes up their mother country of Switzerland.

Conversely, in one town in the far west of Ticino, Bosco Gurin, the people speak German, being part of the Walser tradition from Germany.

Official Swiss records of their native-born citizens:-

I do not have any primary Swiss documents here in Perth, Western Australia, except for those I obtained myself for my own great grandfather Alberto MAGGETTI’’s family research. That means I have no Swiss birth/death/marriage/census, citizenship or migration records (i.e. no primary documents) to look up for you - it is the Archives at the regional capital, Bellinzona, in Ticino which has all those documents for Ticino/Tessin.

Australia & NZ:-

I have checked for you in Joseph GENTILLI’s book ‘The Settlement of Ticino Immigrants in Australia’ during the 1850s+ goldrush - a "G. MUSCHI" came to Australia in 1855 on the ship "Agen u. Heinrich" from the Ticino village of Gordevio. However, there are no MUSCHIs listed in the Australian White Pages today. So, there are no decendants. (Gentillii's book says that when he wrote it in there was one MUSCHI listed in Swiss White Pages un the Lugano area - it might be worth looking up again.

In checking Phyllis Gernes and Kenneth Diebert’s ‘On & Beyond The Georgetown Divide’ (California) I found no MUSCHIs listed in the 'Georgetown Gazette' for 1880-1900.

Then in Maurice PERRET's ‘Les Colonies Tessinoises en Californie’ for people of the surname(s) you are researching, I found MUSCHIs migrating from the Ticino village of Bidogno - however, unlike GENTILLI, Maurice PERRET does not give details like people's Christian names or destinations in the USA. It seems, however, that it was in California; plus those States around the Great Lakes; and also down near Florida, where the Ticinesi settled mostly (or where their descendants have moved to over the last 150 years).

If your Ticinese family originally settled in North Eastern California, you can also contact Tim PURDY (he specialises in North Eastern California) at for any knowledge he has of people of the surname(s) you research. Some of these may be descendants or cousins of your original Ticino families and may be helpful.

In February 2005 the Ancestry|US Federal Census Collection came to my notice where you can access more than 450 million names -


Tony L'ORSA has made up a list of Swiss people settling in the ‘Bulkley Valley, British Columbia, Canada’ (but they are not necessarily only Ticinese migrants from Switzerland).

The South American quandary:- I have very little information on who migrated to any of the South American countries, or where they left from in Europe, or where they settled in South America. However, by using various South American White Pages I found my own MAGGETTI descendant-cousins in Buenos Aires, Argentina. If you find anything I can use to help others I would love to have it by e-mail.

This next paragraph I added to my South American file after we last spoke - Fortunately, in early February 2003 Oscar MUSCHI from Peru (although he is currently living in the USA) sent a wonderful file full of useful information to help research within the various South American countries. If you have enquired about South America, I can e-mail the file "aSouthAmericanTWO.htm"

If you have Irish family who settled in South America, Edmundo Murray’s latest (January 2005) contact said, "We are happy to announce the posting of new contents to the website "Irish Migrations Studies in South America" - see

Searching Worldwide:-

If you want to stagger yourself with the huge volume of information a worldwide search provides for most surnames (because it includes databases held by LDS (the Mormans), Google Search and Rootsweb plus some other sources) then go to - once you have requested the surname(s) prepare yourself for multiple windows opening up - each with a range of possibilities on different databases. This, truly, is one of the most mind-blowing examples of what the Internet can do for researchers!

Have a look at all my attachments for they should give you a considerable amount of help.

A procedure for you to follow:-

1. My ‘Permission’ attachment will tell you how to contact the BELLINZONA archives - you need to write to Bellinzona (I used English) to get permission from Bellinzona to ask them about the people you want to know about. Once they approve you need to write back to Bellinzona asking that they research those certain people for you in their files.

This is a bit like the request you have to make when you are in the Army, "Permission to speak, Sir?!" before you can actually speak!! So, unless you do this, the Bellinzona Archives will not help.

2. Search the LDS Church (Latter Day Saints i.e. the Mormans) webpages for the LDS Family History Centre near you - they have a lot of Ticino/Tessin on microfilm and possibly have these church records for you to view - that early part of my research for my MAGGETTI family in Ticino/Tessin was done for me by my cousin, Claudio MAGGETTI, who lives there in Ticino;

3. Check the Swiss White Pages on the Internet for they should tell you if the surname(s) you are researching has descendants in Ticino today. I found 12 MAGGETTIs listed in/around Locarno and wrote to them, receiving two replies - both turned out to be my cousins. I strongly suggest that you write to all the people you find there in the Swiss White Pages with the surname(s) you are researching - you only want ONE interested reply to re-connect you to your family of old!

4. Then you need to obtain your ‘Familienschein’ document from BELLINZONA which is where I got mine - that Familienschein took me back three more generations to 1777 and that is how Claudio MAGGETTI in Ticino and I finally proved the link between us. I do not have a 2005 cost for this document.

Italian names in Switzerland:-

Be a little cautious - many 'Swiss'-Italian surnames have the same spelling as 'Italian'-Italian surnames but the families themselves are not related in any way (unless, the 'Italian'-Italians come from the very north Italian region of Lombardy just south of the Ticino/Swiss border).

Ticinesi going to the UK and other European countries, plus those migrating Overseas:-

Apart from looking for seasonal work in Italy, Austria and France, the Ticinesi commonly left Europe from ports as far from Switzerland as Liverpool in England, because it was one of England’s largest ports sending people to its colonies in Australia, New Zealand or even to the Americas. This meant that many of the Ticinesi actually walked on foot, rode horses, caught coaches and trains across Europe until they reached their port of embarkation. Genoa in Italy was also a very popular point of exit.

I have had contact with many people in other parts of Europe and the UK researching their Ticinese forebears who left to settle in Italy, France, the UK (especially London); the Netherlands and Russia. Unfortunately, I do NOT have any reference book with lists of their names, locations, wive’s names, etc, for Europe like I do have for migrants to Australia and New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

The Archives in Bellinzona:-

This is the information I have been given re the Bellinzona Archives:-

Archivio di Stato CH 6500 Bellinzona Vaile Stefano Franscini 30 A


telefono +41 91 814 13 20

fax +41 91 814 13 29


and the person who signed the letter:-

Funzionario (civil/public servant)

Incaricato (in charge) Dorella Mazzolini

telefono +41 91 814 13 20


From the replies I have seen, Dorella Mazzolini only speaks Italian so someone there in the office must speak English - they obviously understand our letters because they reply in English. The meaning of Swiss surnames:- If you want to know more about the meaning of your surname(s), go back to the Ticino web pages where you found my name and look for these - the VON MOOS; the SURNAME SEARCH DIRECTORY; the BILLETER, and the FAMLIENNAMENBUCH DER SCHWEIZ look-up systems where you can ask about the surname. Sorry, I do not have any of those huge publications or references (one is 1000 pages thick!) that those people in Europe have in their libraries to look up.

Does someone collect the lists’ surnames, with locations? On SwissGen you will find the webpage that lists surnames (along with a brief introduction about them) and the links to the webpages created by their authors. Personal pages on Swiss Families French/Italian-speaking cantons

Research Costs:- I have no up-to-date information on the cost of various services and certificates that the Archives in Bellinzona provide - once you have some success with them I would LOVE to be given the costs so as to help others who contact me.

Perhaps you can help others:- If you have done serious research on a particular village(s) or area in Ticino, you may be interested in becoming a ‘Regional Contact’ like me (although I cover the whole of Ticino) - consult

Translation between languages:- I used the translation programme at because people in Ticino today speak Italian in everyday life and have no need for English, so most do not speak it. However, they do have contact with French-speaking and German-speaking peoples. Someone at Bellinzona Archives read my letter to them in English okay (although they were still four months in replying!)

Alternatively, use another free translation site at

Further translations:-

It may appear that I am multi-lingual - not so! The basic files I have to send you folks are in English which is my primary language - although, I have studied Latin, French and Italian, Indonesian and just a little Greek and German. I need to have my source files translated into good Italian, French, Spanish and German, so if you are fluent in any of these languages, you could offer help to our international research movement by translating one for me. It can easily be e-mailed to you to work on. Thanks.

I prefer that you write to me in English, but I will manage French, Italian or even some Spanish.

Feedback to me:-

Even if for no other reason than pure courtesy PLEASE get back to me and let me know that you have received the files I send, and then let me know of the success you have as it occurs. During most weeks I receive 3-4 enquiries from people all around the world asking how to start researching.

I am always most interested to hear how you get on and please don't hesitate if there is anything more with which I might be able to help. When someone contacts me glowing with their success we celebrate with a glass of 'cyber champagne'!!

Buona fortuna!

A John Parker

Perth, Western Australia

International Coordinator for Ticino Research

Perth, Western Australia

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Swiss Genealogy on the Internet

Canton Ticino (TI)
Migration to South America

Much of the credit for the information on these pages goes to the late Doctor Joseph Gentilli, the publication GEOWEST and the Department of Geography at the University of Western Australia under Professor John Dodson and is most gratefully acknowledged.

Contents - Are there descendants in South American Countries today? Obtaining a "Famlienschein" Latter Day Saints Repositories Various Countries' White Pages can be accessed at Some Stories of Yesteryear A Shipping Line Can I do some research myself?

Are there descendants in South American Countries today? - we know that the Ticinesi made their way to various countries in South America and have confirmation of their descendants living today in Argentina, Peru, Brazil and Uruguay.

One attraction was the similarity of Italian to its "sister" Latin languages, Spanish and Portuguese.

Peruvians were informed in 1999 that they were able to apply to the re-incorporation of their Swiss nationality but before this can happen they must make contact with Swiss relatives.

Obtaining a "Famlienschein"- RULES FOR OBTAINING A "FAMLIENSCHEIN" (JANUARY 2000) Nobody will get any information on living people for you are expected to contact these people themselves (there are a few exceptions - not really worth mentioning).

To get information on deceased people you have to get a permission from the Cantonal Civil Registry Office - the address for the Canton Ticino one is unknown at the moment.

If you are visiting Ticino in person you will not be allowed to view the original register at all for the ordinance states that under normal circumstances you shouldn't obtain access to the register, but get a Familienschein as an excerpt of the relevant data instead - there is some freedom of interpretation as to what "normal circumstances" are.

Now, to get this permission, you have to prove that you are a direct descendant! Proof means having a chain of documents from your birth certificate to your parents' marriage certificate to the person you want information about. If you get permission there is a fee sfr 50 for St Gallen.

With this permission you are then allowed to approach the local Civil Registration Office and ask for a Familienschein - see for which the fee will usually be in the sfr 25-50 range (depending on the number of entries i.e. mainly the number of children). This is only valid for data you request from a Civil Registration Office.

These offices were set up in 1876 and collected some data retrospectively then (usually all the people still alive and living in Switzerland) which brings you back to early 19th century in most cases.

Only a few communities have similar records dating further back. Before this time it's church records - and these church records have been filmed to a fair extent. Some Cantons have had few filmed - others, like Ticino (unknown) usually cover the period until 1875."

Bellinzona Archives Address: Al Direttore Egregio, Signor Direttore, Archivio Cantonale del Ticino,Via C. Salvioni, 6500 Bellinzona, SWITZERLAND

Swiss Censuses - Dave Schmutz said in July 2002, "I sent your query re Swiss Censuses of Cevio to the CHE-Ticino e-mail discussion group. I received the following two responses. I also found 2 census that had been microfilmed and can be viewed at your local LDS Family History:"

FHL INTL Film 1196718 : Censimento 1808 (Mendrisio, Lugano, Locarno, Vallemaggia, Bellinzona, Riviera, Blenio, e parte della Leventina)

FHL INTL Film 1196719 : Censimento 1837 (Comune e Cittàà di Lugano)

Use to link to the information regarding Cevio. To find the census information above, click on "View Place Details" (in the grey box, upper right corner) once you arrive on the FamilySearch website from the SwissGen website.

Latter Day Saint Libraries - The Church of the Latter Day Saint's (commonly called the Mormans) - the History Centres of the Church of the LDS have catalogues able to be checked at www.familysearch - if the Parish Registers you want have been filmed by the Mormons then these can give a wealth of information regarding pre-1900 ancestors and their siblings without the need for Civil Registration records. These microfilms, if available, can be ordered at minimum cost.

Various Country's White Pages can be accessed at - Argentina - use this URL - Once you are into the website the directory itself is called "La Guía de Teléfonos"- click on URL www.paginasamarillos and then "Las Paginas Blancas." Then enter the surname and press "Buscar" to search. You'll be working in Spanish but it is fairly straight forward to follow (even if you only speak English).

Brazil - type in and click on "Listas Telephonecas," select the city you want, put the surname in the white box and press "Procurar." You'll be working in Portuguese which is more difficult to read than Spanish (if you only speak English)!

Chile - then click on "Paginas Blancas Interactivas." First choose the Región, then one of these: Busqueda por Persona to search for people, Empresa to search for companies, or Teléfono to search by telephone number (reverse search). Press Buscar to search. You'll be working in Spanish but it is fairly straight forward to follow (even if you only speak English).

Paraguay - - then select "Paginas Blancas" (but so far I have not been able to get past the A-Z listing to get personal names). You'll be working in Spanish but it is fairly straight forward to follow (even if you only speak English).

Peru - - select "Paginas Blancas" for the Peruvian white pages for both people and business. Press the "Busqueda" button. Enter surname and press the "Busqueda" button again. You'll be working in Spanish but it is fairly straight forward to follow (even if you only speak English).

Uruguay - - select "Paginas Blancas" for the Uruguyian white pages for both people and business. Press the "Busqueda" button. Enter surname and press the "Busqueda" button again. You'll be working in Spanish but it is fairly straight forward to follow (even if you only speak English).

Some Stories of Yesteryear - some of these following stories may be quite useful to you in your preparatory research 1. Relatives leaving Ljubljana (near Trieste) and going to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1926;

2. Another had an ancestor who emigrated to California from Canton Ticino via New York in the late 1800s-early 1900s; and who had relatives settling in South America as well. She has no clue as to where they settled and how they got there;

3. One Huguenot Swiss family went to Argentina, according to a book by Gaston Gori: Colonizacion Suiza en Argentina-Colonizadores de San Carlos Hasta 1860 (written 1947);"

4. One was posting a request for information regarding ships which sailed to South America, both East Coast and West Coast (Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru), from Italy in approximately 1895, wanting to where information on which ships sailed and passenger lists could be obtained;

Gene K. Speckert at tells us, "I would be interested in hearing other stories about emigration to South America. I would be especially thrilled if I find the names of people who could be related - the people my grand parents were planning to meet. My relatives spoke (Swabian) German, as they were part of the Donauschwabs who resettled in what is now Hungary, near Lake Balaton, in the town of Varoslöd, in Vesprem county. His forebears later migrated to Brazil.

I found MAGGETTI relatives in Argentina by using the White Pages there and then writing to people with the surname. One replied (in Spanish) and is most interested!

Websites Which Might Help With Your Research - 1. SouthAmGenWeb is a fairly new site needing some coordinators to help the genealogy of the various South American countries to progress and is available at

2. publishes articles on immigration to South American countries.

A Shipping Line - taken from Liverpool and the last of England: The Emigrant Trade - "Among the packet owners of the late 1840s was Enoch Train...(who) made his fortune in the Baltic and South American trades, and then in 1844 established his packet between Boston and Liverpool. This was generally known as the White Diamond Line from the diamond design on the house flag, and his ships also carried a large 'T' on their foretopsails." I have done no research into the White Diamond Line but it may prove quite fruitful for you if you do.

Ted Finch (a UK marine enthusiast) tells us there were several companies operating passenger services direct from the UK to Brazil at this time. The major ones were: -
Royal Mail Steam Packet Co - from 1850 sailed Southampton-Pernambuco-Bahia-Rio de Janeiro.
Pacific Steam Navigation Co - from 1868 sailed Liverpool and called at Rio de Janeiro.
Lamport & Holt Line - from 1863 sailed Liverpool to Brazilian ports and from 1866 called at Glasgow and Antwerp.
Booth Line - from 1866 sailed Liverpool to Amazon ports.

Photographs of Ships - Don Hazledine in the UK runs an e-mail photo service of ships which he can supply at

Comments of one researcher, Julian Burgo of Argentina:- "First of all, thousands of Ticinese emigrated to Argentina, those surnames mixed with the Italians ones (who emigrated by the hundreds of thousands to Argentina) because they are similar, and lots of times, had families (Ticinese) in Lombardy.

The Canton Archive in Ticino located in Bellinzona doesn't charge anything for the search and mine was done by a simple e-mail and answered (via normal mail) with an original copy of the 1800s register.

Looking for a Ticinese ancestor with roots in Italy is very important for Argentinians though we only need to have one Italian ancestor and Italian citizenship is automatic and guaranteed (even with a jump in the generations), you just have to follow the chain.

The most important port of leaving in Europe for the Ticinese migration was Genoa in Italy. Thousands travelled from there to South America."

Translation between languages:- I used the translation programme at Babelfish site at

- even if it's not perfect they will understand your enquiry. You can also translate their reply back into your first language!

People in Ticino today speak Italian in everyday life and have little need for English so most do not speak it but they do have contact with both French- and German-speaking peoples. Obviously, someone at the Bellinzona Archives read my letter in English okay (but they were still 4 months in replying!)

Can I do some research myself? - YES, and PLEASE advise A. John Parker at so that he can guide researchers and post ideas here for all to see.

As you can see our knowledge of migration to this fascinating continent is thin, so information is desperately needed to help others. So, there it is researchers - we look forward to your contributions.

Top of Page

Kantonsauswahl | Canton selection | selection des Cantons | selezione del Cantoni

Topic Selection | Themenauswahl | Choix de Thèmes | Argomento

This provisional page is maintained by Wolf W. Seelentag. A John Parker has contributed to this page. / Last updated 7 December 2002. Please forward any comments and/or additions to this webpage to : WebMasterCH.

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Sources of Information on South America

Thanks to Peruvian genealogist, Oscar Muschi (who is currently living in the USA), for this amazing range of resources on the various countries on South America. At this early stage, February 2003, I have not had a chance to test out the links and discover much for myself but the potential is huge - A John Parker.


Pestalozzi Swiss School: or

Here you will find a lot of information about Swiss descendants in Perú from their electronic addresses:

Swiss Chamber of Commerce: or

Swiss Embassy:

Swiss Club:

Winkelred Association:


Swiss Club:

Kalbermatteis: Journey to America:

Entidades Valesanas argentinas:

This is a Valais descendants association.

Swiss Chamber of Commerce: or

Bariloche Colony Swiss:

Swiss Colony of Esperanza City: (See OTHERS)

You will find links about other colonies (records from Juan Schobiger)

Swiss Colonies in Plottier:

On this webpage, find "La Historia de Plottier por el prof. H Milan" and see: "6.ESTABLECIMIENTO SAN EUGENIO LOS ANDES "Es importante……….la instalación de familias suizas…"

Swiss chronicles:…/

It is a busy website, so do persist and search article "Colectividad Suiza", and do read the link "carta de un inmigrante" dated 1891.

Swiss colonies landing at Rosario:

Here, research the article: "La historia desconocida de los Suizos que llegaron a Rosario"

Pioneer Adventures (see the link "inmigrantes……..….…inmigración):

Swiss Colony Chronicle:

This is not an easy page; ao any problems, try the website research requesting Suplemento and Turismo at the same time, later ask "Entre el campo y el rio"

The Italian Colony in Rosario:

Please, do read this interesting chronicle, later and, knowing that the Ticino colony was closed to the Italian one, because of the language, you will be able to imagine the Swiss journey in Rosario.


Swiss descendants from the Araucanía:

Here, for genealogy requests, contact:

Swiss School:

Swiss School e-address: or

Swiss Clubs:

In Magallanes - Ph # (061)22 19 26

In Osorno - Fax: (064)42 23 87

In Santiago - Fax:225 52 57

In Temuco - Ph # (045)403 626 / 328 772

Swiss Colony of Lantauro: Ph # (045)53 19 01

Swiss Colony of Concepcion:

Swiss Colony of Los Angeles: Fax:(043)31 27 01

Swiss Colony of Traiguen: Fax:(045)86 14 39

Swiss Colony of Victoria: Ph # (045)84 19 66

Helvetica Corporation: or

Swiss Ladies of Santiago: Casilla 216 - 12 / Santiago

Swiss Ladies of Temuco: Ph # (045)24 74 73

Swiss Ladies of Victoria: Ph # (045)84 19 66

Swiss Chilean Institute:

Swiss Consulate: Fax: 56- 2-263-4094

Swiss Chamber of Commerce: Fax: 232 19 26


Colonia Helvetia:


Information about Swiss colony:

Carlos Rolong:



Los Suizos del Paraguay:

It includes the interesting page "Botánica en Py". Here contact


Swiss Embassy:

Swiss Club:


Swiss Embassy: swissemcar@compuserve

Swiss Embassy e-address:

Venezuela - Swiss Association -


Swiss Club of Quito:

Swiss Consul:

Swiss Club of Guayaquil: Fax # 04/2852883


Consular Agency:


Swiss Colony Chronicle:

Swiss Colony Chronicle:

Here, in "Varios" see: Las Colonias Suizas y su zona

Swiss Colony Chronicle:

Swiss Colony Chronicle:

Here, search "Colonia Suiza".

Swiss in Uruguay:


Swiss Organizations:

Swiss Associations Federation:

Swiss Consulates in South America:

"Inmigración y Colonización Suizas, en la República Argentina en el Siglo XIX" (Publicación # 1)


(You can ask Mr Hugo Zingerling, in Argentina, about this book - because it

was his main reference when he made up his website);

I hope this information is useful to you. From my own experience I'm sure that the Swiss Club and the Swiss School in each country are good places to find lots of information. Just contact them and explain what kind of research you're doing and they will help you - Oscar Muschi.

A John Parker - International Coordinator for Ticino Research - February 2003 - Perth, Western Australia

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"THE SWISS" and Their Privacy Laws

Thanks to genealogist, Dr Wolf Seelentag of Switzerland, who wrote this to help us all understand the complex issues within Switzerland we address when trying to obtain our family information.

When trying to answer your questions, the biggest problem is that "the Swiss" don't exist! Whilst some laws are Federal (like the new Civil Registration Ordinance which cause most of the problems for genealogists), the interpretation is sometimes left to the Cantons - or at least to some degree they are (e.g. the civil registries are under the responsibility of the cantons). The most obvious sign of this are the fees you have to pay to get your permission to ask questions - ranging from sfr 50 to 300. I have to add that you get different "permissions" for different fees and the choice is not yours - you only get what the Canton offers!

Remember, this is not connected to THE privacy law - the civil registration ordinance is much more strict than the general privacy law.

To continue with how to get information from a Civil Registry Office - some basics first:-
These offices were set up in 1876, when some data were collected retrospectively (at least it was from people still alive and living in Switzerland at the time). In some places they may have data quite a lot further back but this is the rare exception. So if you write to a Civil Registry Office for data before 1800 don't expect an answer - people there will often feel, that you are taking our genealogy too seriously (e.g. by studying you should know that they won't be able to provide meaningful information).

1. In many cases, you may not be sure of the origin of the citizenship of your ancestors and you may write to several canton offices. In this case, I always recommend you mention that you are aware of the need for permission and in this first step you are not asking for vital data but only enquiring whether a certain person can be identified in their registers. This does not require permission (at least not in the Cantons I have dealt with so far) and usually will also be free of charge. Tell them you just want to make sure you apply for the "correct permission" - otherwise you might end up wasting your money for the permission in the wrong canton.

2. Then, write to the correct canton, asking for permission TO ASK for vital data. NB: when applying for permission, make sure to state that you are interested in ALL your ancestors. It may sound silly to many of you (it does to me!) but some cantonal offices still seem to believe that genealogy deals with the surname bearing line only - so if you are not careful you might end up with permission for just this - and the office will refuse to answer questions about your female ancestors!

2. Once you have received their written permission to ask for vital data, write back and ACTUALLY ASK FOR THE VITAL DATA (including ALL your ancestors) - there is no way around this!

Before-1850 church records are the first choice. In most Cantons the State Archive (which, for Ticino, is in the administrative city of Bellinzona) will either have the originals or at least microfilms. These archive offices usually do not have enough staff to do any genealogical research for you - so, please, don't blame them if they refuse to do it.

If you are lucky, church records have been filmed by the LDS and are available there (I don't have exact statistics, but I would estimate that some 50%-60% of pre-1876 church records have been microfilmed by the LDS).

Back to the Civil Registry Office - What helps to get an answer? Obviously, your best bet would be to have a friend at the Office (not a very useful hint for people living abroad). So, when writing use the local language German, French or Italian (I do not suggest computerized translation programmes - they are occasionally good for a laugh but as long as you don't know, and understand, the original, they are often useless. It would be better to use Arthur Teschler's free translation service at

Enclose an International Reply Coupon (IRC) - even if the Office doesn't use it, it shows your goodwill. Some people recommend sending several IRCs to cover costs of photocopies, etc. Due to the restricted use of IRCs, however, my personal impression is that sending several IRCs is not very useful. Good luck!!

Wolf W. Seelentag, PhD can be contacted at -

Reherstr. 19, CH - 9016 St. Gallen, Switzerland
Tel (home) : +41-71-2885121 Fax : +49-89-2443-91987
Tel (work) : +41-71-4942233
This page generated by A. John Parker - Co-ordinator for International Ticino Research - 25 April 2003

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