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flag  History of Switzerland

Journey back in time to Switzerland

Visit Switzerland. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures, postcards and ancestry.

Do You Have Switzerland Roots? Share MY Ancestral Story!

 Switzerland -

In 1565, Conrad Gesner, of Switzerland, invented the pencil.

Christmas in Switzerland: The name Santa Claus comes from Sankt Nikolaus or Saint Nicolas (an early Christian bishop from Myra in present-day Turkey, the protector of children). This friendly figure does not play a role at Christmas, but appears on December 6, the Patron Saint's Day. In the Swiss German part, he is known as "Samichlaus" and he visits homes and schools, distributing sweets, fruits and nuts to well-behaved children and giving good advice to the less well-behaved. In Switzerland, he is not accompanied by a reindeer, but very often by a donkey and a dark-clad assistant. The children assume that they come from the snowy mountains.

There is MUCH more to discover about Switzerland. Read on!

Switzerland Nostalgia: Vintage Photos, Ads, and Postcards








(IL) - Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois
Jura-Simplon Railway

Jura-Simplon Railway
18 Hole Golf Links
Engadine, Switzerland

18 Hole Golf Links
Engadine, Switzerland

Discover Switzerland: History, News, Travel, and Stories

Add informationAdd History/News/Story
1565 - The pencil is invented (Conrad Gesner, Switzerland)
"In 1565 the German-Swiss naturalist Conrad Gesner first described a writing instrument in which graphite, then thought to be a type of lead, was inserted into a wooden holder."

Read more about Conrad GESNER
1718 - January 17 - Avalanche destroys every building in Leukerbad, Switzerland; kills 53
January 17, 1718
1784 - The oil lamp is invented (Aimé Argand, Switzerland)
"Argand burner, first scientifically constructed oil lamp, patented in 1784 in England by a Swiss, Aimé Argand. The first basic change in lamps in thousands of years, it applied a principle that was later adapted to gas burners. The Argand burner consisted of a cylindrical wick housed between two concentric metal tubes. The inner tube provided a passage through which air rose into the centre to support combustion on the inner surface of the cylindrical flame in addition to that on the outer surface. A glass chimney increased the draft, allowing more complete burning of the oil; an Argand lamp gave about 10 times the light of an earlier lamp of the same size, as well as a cleaner flame, but its oil consumption was greater."

Read more about François Pierre Aimé ARGAND photo of ancestor
In 1815, the world's first commercial cheese factory opened in Switzerland.

1870 - The number of emigrants that left Switzerland for over sea in 1868 numbered 9,752, of whom 4,755 came to America.

St Joseph Herald
Saint Joseph, Michigan
January 29, 1870
1870 - The practice of torturing prisoners in order to make them confess, which has been abolished by most civilized nations, still exists in Switzerland.

St Joseph Herald
Saint Joseph, Michigan
January 29, 1870
1878 - The ancient tower of Aspermont, in Switzerland, which crowned a mass of high rocks, and which had withstood the tempest of ages, fell lately with a tremendous crash.

St Joseph Herald
Saint Joseph, Michigan
July 13, 1878
1884 - In Switzerland, you can send almost anything through the mails. Trunk, gripsack, hat-box, bag of potatoes - it is all one to the postal authorities, as long as you pay the postage.
And it is a very rare thing for anything to be tampered with or miscarry.
St Joseph Herald
Saint Joseph, Michigan
November 29, 1884
1887 - Switzerland has recently adopted by popular vote a new law placing the the entire control of the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors in the hands of the government...

St Joseph Herald
Saint Joseph, Michigan
September 24, 1887
1888 - An avalanche descended into the valley of Morrobia, Switzerland, on the 28th ult., killing ten persons and a large number of horses and cattle.

St Joseph Herald
Saint Joseph, Michigan
March 3, 1888
1888 - At Montreux, on the lake of Geneva, in Switzerland, a reservoir used to work and electric railway burst on the 6th, destroying numerous houses and drowning many persons.

St Joseph Herald
Saint Joseph, Michigan
November 10, 1888
1888 - President of Switzerland Dead.
BERNE, Nov. 28. - M. Hertenstein, President of Switzerland, who underwent the amputation of his right leg last week because of disease of the arteries, is dead.

St Joseph Herald
Saint Joseph, Michigan
December 1, 1888
1895 - Switzerland
Switzerland, a federal republic of Central Europe, situated between lat. 45° 50' and 47° 50' N. and lon.6° and 10°25' E., bounded on the N. by Baden, from which it is separated for the most part by the Rhine, N.E. by Würtemberg and Bavaria, from which it is separated by the Lake of Constance, E. by the principality of Liechtenstein and the Tyrol, S. by Italy, from which it is separated by the Alps and the Lake of Geneva, and W. and N.W. by France, from which it is separated in part by the Jura Mountains and the river Doubs. The greatest length, from W. to E., near the parallel of 46°35' N, is 216 miles; the greatest breadth, about 140 miles...
Lippincott's Gazetteer of the World: A Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer Or Geographical Dictionary of the World Containing Notices of Over One Hundred and Twenty-five Thousand Places ... Joseph Thomas January 1, 1895 J.B. Lippincott
1900 - Population of Switzerland - 3,315,400

1904 - May 21 – The International Federation of Association Football, FIFA, is established.
May 21, 1904
1938-1944 - Sunscreen is invented (Franz Greiter, Switzerland and Benjamin Green, United States)
The earliest form of sunscreen was created by Franz Greiter in 1938 and then Benjamin Green in 1944 who used a mixture of cocoa butter and red veterinary petroleum to protect his skin from the sun. Shortly afterwards, Franz Greiter branded his formula Piz Buin while Mr Green marketed his as Coppertone Suntan Cream. Swiss chemist Franz Greiter then went on to produce the Sun Protection Factor rating that is still used today.

The invention of sunscreen can be associated with both Franz Greiter and Benjamin Green. The latter invented sunscreen for the military to protect soldiers from over exposure to the sun while the former Swiss chemist created Glacier Cream back in 1938.
1948 - Velcro is invented (George de Mestral, Switzerland)
George de Mestral (June 19, 1907 – February 8, 1990) was a Swiss electrical engineer who invented the hook and loop fastener which he named Velcro...

De Mestral first conceptualised hook and loop after returning from a hunting trip with his dog in the Alps in 1941. After removing several of the burdock burrs (seeds) that kept sticking to his clothes and his dog's fur, he became curious as to how it worked. He examined them under a microscope, and noted hundreds of "hooks" that caught on anything with a loop, such as clothing, animal fur, or hair.[6] He saw the possibility of binding two materials reversibly in a simple fashion, if he could figure out how to duplicate the hooks and loops...
By L. Marsland Gander
Daily Telegraph Radio Correspondent

The B.B.C. made "April Fools" of many television viewers last night by showing a film apparently of spaghetti growing on trees. It was broadcast at the end of the "Panorama" programme with great seriousness and a commentary by Richard Dimbleby.

The film depicted women gathering the "crop" and laying it in receptacles. Then some peasants were seen eating it. The pictures were made by the B.B.C. in Switzerland.

Hundreds rang up Broadcasting House and Lime Grove studios seeking an explanation. There were so many calls that for a time the lines to the studios were blocked.

All the B.B.C. regional centres were also flooded with calls. Most viewers took the joke good-humouredly and expressed amusement, but there were a minority who thought it was childish and irresponsible. Some contended that "April Fools" jokes ought to stop at noon in accorance with tradition.

Mr. Dimbleby, who spoke throughout ...

1989 - The World Wide Web is invented at CERN (Tim Berners-Lee, UK)
Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist, invented the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989, while working at CERN. The web was originally conceived and developed to meet the demand for automated information-sharing between scientists in universities and institutes around the world.

The first website at CERN – and in the world – was dedicated to the World Wide Web project itself and was hosted on Berners-Lee's NeXT computer.

For more information, visit
2023 - Switzerland has something for everyone. Here's a list of places to go and things to do in this beautiful country:
Zermatt and the Matterhorn:

Visit the charming car-free village of Zermatt.
Take the Gornergrat Railway for breathtaking views of the Matterhorn.

Ski or hike, depending on the season.


Explore the well-preserved medieval architecture in the Old Town.

Take a boat trip on Lake Lucerne.

Visit the Chapel Bridge and Water Tower.


Take a train to the "Top of Europe" for panoramic views of the Alps.

Enjoy snow sports or hike in the surrounding area.

Swiss National Park:

Hike through the country's only national park.
Observe diverse alpine flora and fauna.


Experience adventure sports like paragliding, skydiving, and bungee jumping.

Cruise on Lake Thun or Lake Brienz.


Wander through the UNESCO-listed Old Town.

Visit the Zytglogge clock tower and the Bear Park.

Montreux and the Swiss Riviera:

Attend the Montreux Jazz Festival if you're there in July.

Stroll along the lakeside...

Discover MY Roots: Switzerland Ancestry

Ancestors Who Were Born or Died in Switzerland

We currently have information about 69 ancestors who were born or died in Switzerland.

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Ancestors Who Were Married in Switzerland

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Updated: 10/12/2023 8:03:05 PM