What can you find in the search portal newspaper cuttings?  

Firstly, the platform includes all newspaper cuttings that the Swiss Economic Archives (SWA) has collected since 2013 in electronic format on topics and people relevant to the Swiss economy. New newspaper cuttings will be in the database about 2 months after publication.  

Secondly, older newspaper cuttings that have already been digitised are available.

Physical newspaper cuttings that have not yet been digitised (from the middle of the 19th century to 2012) can be found via the finding aids of the Economic documentation. They can be ordered in the catalogue and viewed in the Special reading room of the University Business and Economics Library – Swiss Economic Archives.

Why are newspaper cuttings relevant as historical sources?

Newspapers are an excellent illustration of trends and discourses. Before databases with full text versions of newspapers became available, newspaper cuttings were the only possibility for systematic information searching. Newspaper cuttings allow focused information searching in a curated collection, even today.

The SWA’s unique newspaper cuttings collection documents the social and economic history of Switzerland from the second half of the 19th century onwards. It is one of the last newspaper cuttings collections with national relevance that is still available to the public and free of charge, naturally within the framework of the applicable legal system.

What is the newspaper cuttings collection of the SWA?

The SWA newspaper cuttings collection consists of approximately 2,7 million cuttings from the 1850s to the present. The collection deals with the Swiss economy in a broad manner. Individual articles were filed in document collections (dossiers). Since they have been collected digitally, they have been allocated to a digital document collection using keywords. Three categories of document collections are available:

  • Economic issues
  • Companies and organisations (associations and other institutions)
  • People

The document collections contain additional publications in analogue and digital format in addition to the newspaper cuttings. These can be viewed via the corresponding search interface or an entire document collection can be ordered to the Special reading room.

What does the digital collection include, and what is not yet included?

Approximately 180 000 born digital excerpts have been collected since 2013.  

The retro-digitisation project for newspaper cuttings has been running since 2016. Articles totalling approximately 1 million pages in the following areas can be found online:  

  • All collections of documents on people
  • Document collections on the silk industry (companies, associations, topics)
  • Document collection in the area of trade and industry (companies, associations)
  • Document collections from the banking sector (companies, associations, topics)

Newspaper cuttings from the areas of insurance, transport, exhibitions, international organisations, etc. have not yet been digitised; nor have the thematic document collections in the areas of economics, economic sectors (except the silk industry and banking), as well as social issues.

Which newspaper titles have been and are being evaluated?

It is not possible to say in detail which newspapers were evaluated during which time periods. The aim has always been to record all the important newspapers in Switzerland, although French-speaking Switzerland and Ticino are poorly represented. Newspapers arose and disappeared, and there was a change in political orientation and in the understanding of journalistic work.

The following daily and weekly newspapers are currently being evaluated: Aargauer Zeitung, Basler Zeitung, Bilanz, Blick, Der Bund, BZ Basel, Finanz und Wirtschaft, Handelszeitung, Luzerner Zeitung, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, NZZ am Sonntag, Republik, St. Galler Tagblatt, Sonntagszeitung, Die Südostschweiz, Tages-Anzeiger, Le Temps, Tribune de Genève, Die Wochenzeitung.

The «Zeitung» search function allows you to reconstruct, to a certain extent, which titles have been evaluated earlier.  

How many articles are archived per year?

Every year, between 20 000 and 30 000 newspaper cuttings are archived. This number has been relatively constant for decades, but was significantly lower at the start of the collection period.

With the «Quelldatum» function, you can reconstruct to a certain extent how many newspaper cuttings from which time period are available.

How far back does the collection go?

The SWA has been evaluating the Swiss print media landscape itself since the 1920s. The collection goes back far into the 19th century, because the Basel Chamber of Commerce passed on its newspaper cuttings collection to the SWA when it was founded.

The collection is maintained on an ongoing basis.

How is the collection structured and indexed?

The document collections on people as well as on companies and organisation are titled with the name. Name changes of companies and other organisations are updated. Companies and organisation are linked with the authority records of the GND (Integrated Authority File).

Until 2004, the document collections on economic topics had historical titles such as, for example, «Gewerbe- und Fabrikinspektionswesen». A revision took place in 2005: the number of document collections was reduced from 3500 to 1200; above all, a strict geographical structure was no longer applied. The newly used titles and terms were assigned based on the «Standard Thesaurus Wirtschaft» STW (Thesaurus for Economics). In order to make the searching more intuitive, some of the terms were adapted (e.g. the use of «AHV» instead of «Gesetzliche Rentenversicherung»).

The STW also provides a hierarchical structure (economics, business administration, etc.), which is well suited for systematic searching. It can be found in the search portal under «Themen systematisch».

The document collections with historical names have been linked to the new STW-based titles of the document collections. In this way, you can use the STW keyword to find a historical document collection. An STW keyword often leads to several historical document collection title terms (e.g. under «Geldpolitik und Währung», the historical document collections «Münz- und Währungswesen», «Notenbank», «Devisengesetzgebung», «Goldklausel» and others can be found).

Since 2020, the terms of the original STW have been in use, instead of the adapted STW terms from 2005. This has, among other things, the advantage that the terminology is updated continuously. For example, the document collection «Geldpolitik und Währung» is currently named only «Geldpolitik».

All previously used terms or titles of the document collections are considered as synonyms during a search.

The document collections are about Switzerland as a rule (GND). The dossiers of national economies are an exception. These are found under «Volkswirtschaft. Land XY».

Important trading partners of Switzerland have a document collection allocated «Wirtschaftsbeziehungen Schweiz – Land XY».

Every canton has a document collection «Volkswirtschaft Kanton XY".

Some thematic document collections are organised by canton (financial policy, public finance, public administration, taxes, tax policy, history).

More information about the geographical subdivision see the PDF (in German).

Access authorisation

The search portal newspaper cuttings is freely accessible within the network of the University of Basel (or via VPN). Access authorisation is restricted for copyright reasons. All members of universities or universities of applied sciences in Switzerland can access via SWITCH edu-ID. Please contact us if you are unable to access the collection via the above-mentioned channels. We will be happy to check your request.

The documents that are accessible on the «Rechercheportal Zeitungsauschnitte» platform are partial reproductions of Swiss daily and weekly newspapers. The excerpts in PDF file format are freely available for non-commercial purposes in teaching and research as well as for private personal use for registered users.

Compliance with copyright conditions is the responsibility of the users. The Swiss Economic Archives and the University Library Basel accept no liability for the unlawful use of digital documents, nor for damage caused by the use or the lack of information in this service, that may result. Users release the operators of the «Rechercheportal Zeitungsauschnitte» platform from any third-party claims that result due to violation of copyright or other intellectual property rights.

This service was made possible by the generous support of numerous institutions and people. Many thanks!