Historical lexicon of Switzerland

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HLS word mark with large abbreviations.png
hls-dhs-dss.ch (de / fr / it), e-lir.ch (rm)
Registration No
languages German , French , Italian , Romansh
Published from 1998
items over 36,000 per language

The Historical Lexicon of Switzerland ( HLS ) is an encyclopedia that represents the state of knowledge about the history of Switzerland . It was published as a classic printed lexicon. From 1998 the texts were also published on the Internet as e-HLS ( French e-DHS , Italian e-DSS ). The editorial office is based in Bern , with a branch in Bellinzona . The printed version was published in Basel .

At the end of 2014, the HLS comprised around 36,200 articles in each of the three main languages ​​of Switzerland (around 108,600 articles in total). A two-volume Rhaeto - Romanic partial edition was published from 2010 to 2012 .

The HLS also offers the family name book of Switzerland and the Helvetiae historicum glossary . A joint project of HLS, the Law Sources Foundation of the Swiss Lawyers Association , the Diplomatic Documents of Switzerland (Dodi) and the Swiss Idiotikons is histHub .


Until 2016, the HLS was published by the Swiss Historical Lexicon Foundation (HLS), which was established in 1987 by the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAGW) and the Swiss Society for History . Since then, the HLS has been organized as a “SAGW company”.

Financing is provided by the Swiss Confederation. From 1988 to 2014 costs of a good 106 million francs arose.

The editorial team comprised up to forty employees, and a total of over 2,500 authors worked on the project. There were also 150 consultants and around 100 translators. The current editor-in-chief Christian Sonderegger was elected in 2017, and the historian Marco Jorio held the office from its foundation in 1988 until the end of 2014 .

Work, language versions

The printed work was published - and the online edition - in its entirety in the three national languages German , French and Italian . In French it is called Dictionnaire historique de la Suisse (DHS), in Italian Dizionario storico della Svizzera (DSS) . The authors' contributions have been translated into the other languages. The Historical Lexicon of the Principality of Liechtenstein is also based on the HLS concept .

Printed edition

The first three volumes of the HLS in the three language editions

The predecessor of the HLS was the Historisch-Biographische Lexikon der Schweiz  (HBLS), which the publishing house Victor Attinger published between 1921 and 1934.

After several unsuccessful initiatives since 1958, a three-person SAGW working group developed the concept of a new Historical Lexicon of Switzerland from 1985 to 1987. Marco Jorio was the project manager.

The federal authorities approved the necessary loans in 1987 in view of the 700th anniversary of the Confederation in 1991. The project started on January 1st, 1988 in Bern. On the basis of a keyword list that was completed by 1995, the HLS published a volume every year. By 2014, thirteen volumes and 36,309 articles on people, families, places and topics were created for each language output. The first volume was published in 2002, the thirteenth and last in October 2014.

In the fourth national language, Romansh , local articles appeared as annual advance publications from 1999. In 2010 and 2012 the two volumes of the Lexicon istoric retic (LIR) of the two-volume Rhaeto-Romanic partial edition were published in Rumantsch Grischun . This edition shows the development of the Rhaetian and Graubünden area, i.e. today's trilingual canton of Graubünden and some neighboring regions, in their historical and cultural contexts.

The printed edition comprises a total of 41 volumes, 13 volumes each in German, French and Italian as well as two volumes of the Romansh partial edition published in 2012.

Online edition

An online version has been available on the World Wide Web since 1998 . The so-called e-HLS / e-DHS / e-DSS contains the full keyword list as well as the articles approved by the final editing, but no illustrations. The e-LIR has also been online in Romansh since 2004 . The biographical keywords have been integrated into the biography portal since 2009 .


The aim of the new HLS is to create an expanded multimedia, multilingual and constantly updated online edition. It is intended to appeal to the general public as well as scientists worldwide. From 2017 onwards, infographics and images were started that were previously only available in printed form.


The articles written for the print version were based on the need to be brief, which is associated with a printed lexicon edition. In particular, the lemma and other terms in the articles have continued to be shortened to the initial letters, which makes reading difficult. These restrictions do not apply to the new articles that are only published online (see e.g. the new articles on women's and gender history).

According to the HLS, the history of women in Switzerland is massively underrepresented in the articles available to date. The HLS commented on this failure on the occasion of the Swiss women's strike on June 14, 2019 and published 24 new articles on the “history of women and gender” on the Internet on these days, with many more to follow. The HLS also admitted that it has some catching up to do in the area of ​​Switzerland-related technology history .

In its edition of June 18, 2020, the left Zurich weekly newspaper WOZ criticized in a full-page article on its first page that an article with the lemma of racism was missing . The historian Bernhard C. Schär made a suggestion as to how the lexicon entry could be worded. The article appeared in connection with the death of George Floyd . Christian Sonderegger, editor-in-chief of the HLS, replied that the conception of the lexicon came from a time when research into Switzerland's colonial past was still in its infancy and that it had launched the “Colonial Switzerland” project some time ago, to close this recognized gap.


Printed edition

In German - Historical Lexicon of Switzerland (HLS)

In French - Dictionnaire historique de la Suisse (DHS)

In Italian - Dizionario storico della Svizzera (DSS)

In Rumantsch Grischun - Lexicon istoric retic (LIR)

See also


  • Franz Xaver Bischof: The Historical Lexicon of Switzerland and Eastern Switzerland, in: Writings of the Association for the History of Lake Constance and its Surroundings, 123rd year 2005, pp. 209–215 ( digitized version ).
  • Peter Haber : Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz, in: Traverse , 2007, 40 , pp. 127–133 ( PDF , 114 kB).
  • Renato Morosoli: Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz (HLS), Arbeitsstelle Kanton Zug, in: Tugium, Jahrbuch des Kantons Zug, 2000, 16, pp. 9–16 (PDF, 152 kB; download only after registration; scroll down, there first Page is almost empty!). [Specifically deals with the way in which articles are created.]

Web links

Commons : Historical Lexicon of Switzerland  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Online edition

  • hls-dhs-dss.ch - Historical Lexicon of Switzerland / Dictionnaire historique de la Suisse / Dizionario storico della Svizzera
  • e-lir.ch - Lexicon istoric retic (e-LIR), the Romansh edition

Articles, reports:

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d The historical encyclopedia of Switzerland on target! (PDF) Media text HLS, October 24, 2014
  2. ^ A company of the SAGW. Retrieved November 23, 2017 .
  3. a b Thomas Maissen : The last and the first of its kind. The "Historical Lexicon of Switzerland" is completed with the thirteenth volume . In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung , international edition, December 31, 2014, p. 42.
  4. Employee / central editorial office , HLS / DHS / DSS Web
  5. ^ List of translators
  6. Historical Lexicon of Switzerland (HLS) - Current - HLS News. In: hls-dhs-dss.ch. Retrieved July 6, 2016 .
  7. Marco Jorio: The «Historical Lexicon of Switzerland»: Final report of the planning phase April 1, 1985-31. March 1987 , ed. from the Swiss Academy of Humanities, HLS Working Group, 1987
  8. Message on the Promotion of Scientific Research in the Years 1988–1991 of March 16, 1987 PDF
  9. Hundreds of HLS infographics online. Retrieved November 25, 2017 .
  10. The pictures are coming! Retrieved November 25, 2017 .
  11. «She was the first…»: pioneers of Swiss politics. Retrieved August 20, 2019 .
  12. «She was the first…»: pioneers of Swiss politics. Retrieved August 20, 2019 .
  13. Bernhard C. Schär: Racism - Dear «Historical Lexicon of Switzerland»! We saw that you are missing an entry for the keyword “racism”. We have therefore formulated a proposal. You are welcome! In: WOZ The weekly newspaper . No. 25/40 . Zurich June 18, 2020, p. 1 .
  14. "This design is a great basis." Interview by Kaspar Surber with Christian Sonderegger. In: WOZ No. 26/2020 from June 25, 2020 ( online ).