Archives of Burgergemeinde societies and guilds
313 linear metres, 14th—20th century
Until 1798, the guilds were the smallest administrative entity in the state of Berne. They performed a number of administrative tasks and, of these, using the proceeds of the guilds’ assets to ensure the welfare of their members remains an obligation. The archive holdings consist mainly of documents relating to welfare, financial and asset management and the guild houses, as well as lists of members of the guilds and other files relating to individuals. The files relating to individuals are subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act so their use is partially restricted or only possible with special permission.
The guilds are listed according to the so-called “ordre de préséance” (hierarchical order):
Distelzwang: 17 linear metres of archives, 15th—20th century
Of special interest in the archives are the membership records dating from 1454, and there is also extensive genealogical material.
Pfistern: 41 linear metres of archives, 15th—20th century
As a “Vennerzunft” (guild entitled to appoint an ensign), the guild was responsible for the district court of Seftigen. That is why the guild archives include books of oaths for officials, boundary records, instructions about village administration and files about disputes and forests owned by the authorities.
Schmieden (Blacksmiths): 30 linear metres of archives, 14th—20th century
There are few documents about the office of ensign in the guild’s archives, but a long series of subscription records (1726–1850), supplementing the numerous registers of members of the guild.
Metzgern (Butchers): 30 linear metres of archives, 15th—20th century
These archives include a Butchers’ Order from 1538, the society’s manuals, and accounts for the guild masters and guild assets dating from 1665. Among other things, the Village Order from Oberwichtrach refers to the ensign’s office.
Ober-Gerwern (Upper tanner): 40 linear metres of archives, 14th—20th century
The Ober-Gerwern Society appointed an ensign alternately with the Mittellöwen Guild. The archives include many documents relating to the Gerberngraben and the guild house, together with documents about bankruptcy proceedings carried out by the guilds up to 1827. The files from 1796—1797 about the bankruptcy proceedings of Johann Ludwig Stürler include lists of the atlases, maps and paintings that were auctioned off and a complete library comprising over 11,000 books.
Mittellöwen (Middle Lion): 23 linear metres of archives, 16th—20th century
Representatives of the economic and political elite were members of Mittellöwen, along with artists and Nobel prize-winners. As well as files about internal guild proceedings, a large number of bankruptcy records have been handed down together with documentation about the Goldener Falken inn.
Webern (Weavers): 22 linear metres of archives, 15th—20th century
The guild’s archives give an insight into the trade, with its registers of master weavers, manuals and milliners’ files. The bankruptcy files document economic history in the 18th century.
Schuhmachern (Shoemaker): 16 linear metres of archives, 16th—20th century
The files, minutes, bankruptcy records and material about welfare and guardianship cover the whole period but there are no documents about the trade or files from between 1890 and 1980.
Mohren (Blackamoor, maure): 23 linear metres of archives, 15th—20th century
The varied archives document the life of the guild. The oldest statutes for tailors and cloth cutters date from 1460. Of special interest are the history of the society dating from 1762 by Albrecht Herport (1731—1798) and documents about inspecting journeymen tailors who travelled through Berne and were taxed (1825—1894).
Kaufleuten (Shopkeepers): 31 linear metres of archives, 16th—20th century
The archives start in the middle of the 16th century but has a gap between 1634 and 1716. Especially worthy of note are the reports by scholars and the society files relating to its sponsorship of the market and shopkeepers’ police force.
Zimmerleuten (Carpenters): 18 linear metres of archives, 18th—20th century
In view of the general rarity of tradesmen's files, the documents about carpentry and cooperage from the 18th and 19th centuries are interesting.
Affen (Monkey): 12 linear metres of archives, 14th—20th century
The wide-ranging archives of the Affen society begin in the 17th century. There are also older sources dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries and relating to benefices in the commoners' church, or originating from private individuals.
Schiffleuten (Boatmen): 8 linear metres of archives, 14th—20th century
The society's minutes and invoices have been preserved since 1720, but there is barely any documentation about its political or administrative responsibilities. The records of guild members date back to 1835.
Burgergesellschaft (“Burghers” Society): 2 linear metres of archives and photographs, 20th century
This society, founded in 1910, is open to burghers who do not belong to a guild so it represents their interests vis-a-vis the Burgergemeinde authorities. The archives consist of records and documents about the society's events and building projects.