Swiss prints

The e-rara platform mainly focusses on books printed in Switzerland prior to 2000. This body should be put online as completely as possible. In some cases, however, digitization is prohibited by the provenance of specific books or their physical condition. The digitization of Swiss rare books from the 16th century partly takes place in coordination with the digitization activities of German libraries within the scope of the VD 16.

15th century Swiss prints

16th century Swiss prints

17th century Swiss prints

18th century Swiss prints

19th century Swiss prints

20th century Swiss prints

Thematic Collections

17th century Italian poetry and prose (Biblioteca Salita dei Frati, Lugano)

The Salita dei Frati Library in Lugano is initially publishing a batch of rare editions of seventeenth-century Italian poetry and prose on e-rara, almost all of which come from the rich collection of the eminent Italianist Father Giovanni Pozzi, who bequeathed it to the library.
The digitization and online publication was made possible through the support of the Fidinam Foundation.

18th until early 20th century Bernensia (UB Bern)

This collection comprises popular publications and reference works pertaining to the city and the canton of Bern.

18th and 19th century editions printed in Ticino (Biblioteca Salita dei Frati, Lugano)

The Salita dei Frati Library owns a rich collection of 18th and 19th century books printed in Ticino (Ticinensia). The first editions go back to the year 1746, when the printers Agnelli from Milano founded the first print shop in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland in order to pursue their activities without being subject to the censorship exercised in the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom.

Alchemy, Magic and Kabbalah (Foundation of the Works of C.G.Jung, Zurich)

Between 1928 and approx. 1940, C.G. Jung built up a collection of over two hundred early printed books on alchemy. In his works he analyzed them from a psychological point of view. Thus arose one of the most complete private collections of its time in the field of alchemy. It also includes other rare works in related areas such as magic, mysticism and Kabbalah, along with ancient books of dreams and literature of the Church Fathers.

Bibleikon (Bibliothèque des Pasteurs, BPU Neuchâtel)

The 9 illustrated bibles from the Bibliothèque des Pasteurs date from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries and were selected for this project for reason of their historic and artistic interest. The digitization is the first stage of a project which will include an in-depth analysis of these works as well as a study of the relationship between text and image.

Fondo Gianini (Biblioteca SUPSI DFA, Locarno)

Among the now 40'000 books of the Centro di documentazione SUPSI DFA, the ancient part consists of about 2200 texts: curricula and school laws, school books, exercise books, education books and other documents of the 18th, 19th and 20th century. Most of these documents used to belong to the personal library of Francesco Gianini (vice dean of the Scuola magistrale from 1897 to 1901) and Father Luigi Imperatori (dean from 1888 to 1900). The collection is now being further expanded with the acquisition of other texts for the study of schooling in Switzerland.

Genevan brochures
Collection of political pamphlets and official publications printed in Geneva in the 18th century.

Historical scientific literature (ETH Library)

This category includes scientific books collected by the ETH Library, dating from the middle of the 15th century to the end of the 19th century. The focus is on subjects such as astronomy, mathematics, technology, architecture and natural sciences.

History of Technology and Science (Iron Library)

The collection provides an overview of the Iron Library's collection interests. The majority of the digitized copies are works of an historical nature on general technology and science from the 16th to the early 19th centuries along with works published in Switzerland, first those from Basel. At a later date the thematic focus will shift to works in the fields of mining and metallurgy.

Illustrated works on anatomy (BPU Neuchâtel)

The BPUN holdings are particularly well-stocked in the subject of anatomy, largely thanks to the legacy of Jacques-Louis Borel (1795-1863), a doctor and native of the Neuchâtel region who, in the nineteenth century, made a key contribution to the medical and intellectual life of the canton. He was the king’s personal physician before being appointed chief doctor for the canton in 1848, and was one of the founders of the Société neuchâteloise des sciences naturelles (1832) and the Société médicale de Neuchâtel (1852), as well as a member of the library committee. The latter institution was particularly close to his heart and, upon his death in 1863, he bequeathed to the library some 1,200 works on medicine and natural history dating from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century.

The Library of the Naturforschende Gesellschaft Zürich (ZB Zürich)

The library of the Naturforschende Gesellschaft Zürich (Natural History Society of Zürich), founded in 1746, comprises around 26,000 volumes. It is characterized by a collection of – often top-quality – mathematical and natural scientific titles featuring splendid volumes of plates. It is planned to digitize all prints up to the year 1800 and thereafter a selection with the emphasis on Swiss works.


This collection comprises cartographic depictions mainly published between 1500 and 1900. These historical maps and panoramas pertaining to Switzerland and further afield come from various Swiss University libraries.


The collection Miscellaneous contains digitized material which does not fit in any of the other collections.

Music Prints

This collection contains printed sheet music of various musical genres for diverse instruments. Swiss music prints from the 16th to the early 19th century constitute one particular area of focus and include, as well as secular works, numerous church hymnals and song-books of sacred music for use in the home and in schools.


The collection comprises pamphlets from 16th to 19th c. covering the topics of religion and politics including some significant collections of song pamphlets.

Rheinau Monastery (ZB Zürich)

The library of the Benedictine monastery in Rheinau comprises around 13,000 volumes. In 1864 it was consigned to the Kantonsbibliothek Zürich (Zürich Cantonal Library) and thence entrusted to the Zentralbibliothek Zürich. The majority of publications concern the disciplines of History, Ecclesiastical History, the Auxiliary Sciences of History, Dogmatic Theology and Edifying Literature. It is planned to digitize all prints up to the year 1800 and thereafter a selection with the emphasis on Swiss works.

Rossica Europeana (UB Bern – Swiss Library of Eastern Europe)

The „Rossica Europeana“ depicts the European view on Russia through prints, graphics and maps dating from the 16th to the 19th century. The collection, which was built up by Peter Sager and acquired by the Swiss Library of Eastern Europe in 2005, features about 2000 items, above all travel accounts, ethnographic writings and historical maps. You can find a sample of the collection on e-rara.

Russian exile publications (UB Bern – Swiss Library of Eastern Europe)

In the years before the Russian revolution in 1917, Switzerland served as residence for various Russian opposition groups: Here, social democrats, social revolutionaries, anarchists and other groups published political writings and manifests, many of them in Russian – some even had their own publishers. A collection of these publications is available on e-rara. It originates in the so-called “Davos Library” (Bibliothèque Russe de Davos) and the “Société russe de bienfaisance de Leysin”, which is in the Swiss Library of Eastern Europe’s possession today. It includes works by Lenin, Plekhanov, Aksel’rod and Bakunin, among others.

Swiss children’s books and books for young people (Schweizerisches Institut für Kinder- und Jugendmedien SIKJM)

The present selection of Swiss children’s books and books for young people provides material for research on children's literature and on children and youth culture of the 18th and 19th century in general, mainly in German and French speaking Switzerland. Most of the selected volumes are part of the private collection Keckeis. The publisher Peter Keckeis (1920-2007) collected around 400 children’s books and books for young people published before 1900.

Vitruviana (The Werner Oechslin Library Foundation, Einsiedeln)

In support of research in the field of architectural theory the Werner Oechslin Library Foundation publishes in this collection a representative selection of Vitruviana and Vitruv editions covering six centuries from its unique Vitruv collection that has been developed over many years.

Works by professors of ETH Zurich (ETH Library)

This collection comprises works by ETH professors that are highly significant for ETH Zurich and the history of science.

Works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Bibliothèque de Genève)

This collection gives an overview of the original editions of the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, regardless of whether they were printed separately or published in complete editions of his works.

Works on birds (BPU Neuchâtel)

The BPUN has some of the most beautiful works on birds from the Western world, which were acquired either from the bequest left to the library by David Pury or through donations from wealthy members of the local community at the time of the institution’s foundation. These holdings include key pieces from a modest yet reasonably rich collection which charts the development of our knowledge about birds and the evolution of ornithological works.