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genealogical research

Have you always wondered who your ancestors are? We'll find out for you. We put a lot of attention on scientific research methods and evidence. With over 30 years of experience, Aicher, Nobs und Wieland GmbH (formerly büro aicher) is the oldest active genealogy office in Switzerland.


Family research or genealogy is the reconstruction of the line of descent of a specific person, usually with the aim of visualizing a family tree from the data obtained. For years before 1876, church registers are the central source for obtaining this data. In most Swiss and German localities, church records date back to the late 16th or early 17th century. From 1876 onwards, the church books were replaced by the registers of the civil registry offices. Finding and preparing this data can be very labor intensive.

We take over:

  • extensive genealogical research.

  • Selective research in places where you cannot get any further with your own research.

  • genealogical analyzes for a problem. You can then carry out the steps yourself.

  • genealogical reports for courts. 

  • House research in the canton of Zurich.


Our hourly rate is Chf. 90.- per hour. If visits to archives are necessary, we charge a lower rate of 60.- per hour for travel time. The travel route is always calculated from Zurich.

Whenever possible we try to combine travel times for small orders to help spread costs.

What is genealogy?
Genealogy is the foreign word for family history research. Colloquially, one also speaks of genealogical research or family research. The latter term is misleading, because family research is also a branch of ethnology in which the development of family structures through history (e.g. age at marriage, rules of naming) is generally examined. The individual family plays no role in this. On the other hand, genealogy as a historical auxiliary science deals with a specific family and its members. At the heart of genealogy is proving one person's descent from another (called a filiation). The research has both personal and factual aspects:


In terms of the individuals involved, a lineage is just one of many. We are dealing with an infinite network of related people that began in ancient times and never ends: mother, father, grandparents, great-grandparents, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, siblings, first and second cousins. You cannot avoid narrowing down your research interest: to a specific research direction, a research region, a specific number of generations or a specific topic. For example, many customers are primarily interested in the eponymous lineage, while others prefer a more diversified family tree. A lack of sources often draws a line. When someone wants to hire a genealogist, research is limited by financial resources. When it comes to an assignment in particular, it is therefore good to clarify where and how far you want to go.


From a factual perspective, ancestry is the focus and is researched using core genealogical data. These are sometimes absolutely necessary in order to be able to provide proof of descent: surnames, first names, dates of birth, marriage and death are recorded. For the time when birth and death were not yet recorded in the sources, these dates are replaced by those of baptism and burial, respectively, which are recorded by the churches. In addition to this core data, further information about the persons is recorded. These are usually not absolutely necessary for research, but serve to complete the picture. This includes information on places of residence, religious affiliation, professions, offices, pictures of people, etc...

This research can be expanded to successive levels and supplemented with further information, for example on real estate, diseases, causes of death, hobbies, pets, tax data, contracts and delinquencies. You are actually moving further and further away from pure genealogy towards biographical research. However, it is precisely this additional information that brings the proverbial meat to the bones of a dry data structure. The further you go, the more complex the research becomes. And one increasingly has to deal with types of sources in which the entire population is no longer recorded, but only a few parts: certain data can be found about people who had a lot of property or were delinquent. If you hire a genealogist, you have to know that the search for this information often remains unsuccessful despite a long search, because the person you are looking for simply does not appear in the source. This is very rarely the case with the genealogical core data mentioned first, because the sources in this country are fairly complete, but with more specific additional information, the recording is extremely incomplete.

relationship concept

There is one more question that needs to be clarified at the beginning: Which concept of descent do I use as a basis? The biological or the legal? An adopted child descends legally from the adoptive parents and biologically from the birth parents. There is no compelling choice for one or the other. You just have to be clear about what you're researching. DNA testing is useful for biological ancestry, but it gives a rough picture of ethnicity rather than individual ancestry. In historical genealogy, on the other hand, only what is in the sources can be recorded. This means that if, for example, a false father was recorded in the historical sources, this will also be the case in the research results. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages.

research directions

Ascendancy (ancestors)

For those who are interested in their own origins and would like to receive information about their own ancestors, the research direction of ascendancy is ideal.

The ascendants or ancestors are the direct ancestors of a person, i.e. according to strict mathematical laws 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents, etc. Since everyone has two parents, the mathematical number of ancestors doubles with each generation. So, mathematically speaking, the number increases as a power of two. 
If you go back far enough, you get theoretical numbers that exceed the actual population. From this it can be seen that after a few generations the same people must appear several times as ancestors. This is completely natural and has nothing to do with incest as the individual couples are very distantly related to each other. This phenomenon is called ancestral implex.

The person from whom a genealogical research is based is referred to as a subject. Anyone who conducts research for themselves will usually start with themselves or their children. However, there is always research into the ancestors of famous people, and professional genealogists such as the team at Aicher, Nobs and Wieland GmbH research the families of their customers.

Since research can also become endless with the doubling of the number of ancestors in each generation, some only research certain lines. Research into the eponymous line (usually the purely male line) or the female line is particularly popular. Genealogical research is presented in an ancestral list or pictorially in the pedigree table, which in turn can be sober or artistically decorated.

descent (descendants)

Anyone who is more interested in getting to know collateral relatives or all bearers of a (rare) surname is better off focusing on the research direction of descent.

The descendants or descendants of a person are all children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. of a subject. While genealogical research mostly selects the subject in the present, descendant research makes more sense for someone who lived in the past. Since, in contrast to the number of ancestors, there is no regularity in the number of descendants, with this type of research you never know whether the research is complete or whether there were other, unknown children. While an ascension never ends (there is no person without parents), descent ends when there are no more descendants. 

Research into the descendants of famous personalities, such as Emperor Charlemagne or St. Nicholas Von Der Flüe, is popular. Anyone who conducts family research for himself will start from a test person from whom he himself descends and who may be of particular interest to him. Again, there are popular limitations, such as only researching those descendants that passed the name on, or those descended from the subject's sons (all-male lineage). Then one no longer speaks of descendant research, but of stem research. 

Descendant research is presented in a descendant list or graphically in a descendant table. If this is decorative and includes only the descendants in the male line, one speaks of a family tree.

mixed forms

Of course, you can combine both research directions as you like. For example, one can research all of one's ancestors up to the 16 great-great-grandparents and then use these as test subjects to search for all descendants. In this way, a complex network is obtained, which can sometimes be difficult to represent graphically. Attempts to do this are referred to as kinship tables or clan tables.

Of course, genealogical research gives a more comprehensive picture of the life of the ancestors if they record not only the child who passed on the genes to the subject, but all children. It is therefore usually advisable to list their siblings in addition to the direct ancestors. This is sometimes also necessary to clearly document the filiation. We therefore expressly recommend including siblings of the ancestors.

special forms

In principle, a whole range of special shapes is also possible. The best thing to do is to contact our team directly and describe your research interests. We would be happy to advise you and show you possible research directions for your specific case.

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