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I am researching my Swiss ancestors and although I have quite detailed family trees on both sides, I would like to know more about individual ancestors, specifically, what some of them did for a living - were they farmers, cheesemakers, lawyers?

Is there any way to find out this information or anything approximating to it?

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    Welcome to G&FH.SE! We encourage all new users to take the tour and to read the guidelines in the help center about how to ask a good question. Your question may not get much attention because it is very broad. It might require different answers for different time periods. If you can add an approximate date range for the periods you are interested in, or have any other information that would help focus your question, you can add it by using the edit link below your question. – Jan Murphy Nov 26 '15 at 17:21
  • For ideas perhaps look at questions tagged occupation which you can sort on votes to see which ones appealed most to potential answerers. – PolyGeo Nov 26 '15 at 20:04
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    Many records (baptism, burial, marriage, census, obituaries, military records, etc.) contain references to the person's occupation. Even published family trees used to include this fact as a matter of course. If you have been building your trees from other trees, you need to expand the resources you are accessing. If you need to know more about the words used to describe the occupations named in the records, there are a number of resources available, depending on the language used. – bgwiehle Nov 28 '15 at 14:11
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Many records (baptism, burial, marriage, census, obituaries, military records, etc.) contain references to the person's occupation. Even published family trees used to include this fact as a matter of course. If you have been building your trees from other trees, you need to expand the resources you are accessing. If you need to know more about the words used to describe the occupations named in the records, there are a number of resources available, depending on the language used.

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Create a research plan for each one of your ancestors, and start a research log. When starting out research in a locality new to me, I start a journal or research notebook to keep track of information about the place, and then consult finding aids and research guides to learn more about researching in that locality.

Sometimes before starting work on an ancestor, I create a Genealogy Source Checklist to remind myself what I've already found and to plan which sources I want to look for next. Reviewing all the sources you have about a person as a group can reveal clues and point you at other records.

For Switzerland, the following guides may help:

For each of your ancestors, try to keep in mind:

  1. All the ways their names appear on records. View these as "variant spellings" rather than mistakes.
  2. The time in which they lived.
  3. The places they lived in.
  4. Members of their immediate family.
  5. Their friends, neighbors, and associates (the "FAN" or "FAN club"). Memberships in organizations can give clues about occupations.
  6. Any other information you have about them that will distinguish them from other people who have the same name.

It helps greatly to learn more about the places your ancestors lived in, even if the local history doesn't mention your ancestor in it. Knowing more about the times and places gives you context and helps you spot clues that you might miss otherwise.

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