Collection supervisor

About the collection

The economic documentation at the Swiss Economic Archives (SWA, part of the University Library Basel), is a significant source corpus for the Swiss economy and economic policy. The sources date from the 19th century to the present day. They stand on the intersection of archive and library and cover three areas: businesses and organisations; persons related to economy and politics; thematic documentation on various matters. The document collections include newspaper cuttings, grey literature, anniversary publications, annual reports, biographic materials, or statistics - in printed or digital form.

All economic sectors, the economic policy as well as social issues are covered. The collection is of interest for economic, business, social and cultural history. Economists, researchers as well as journalists and business practitioners will benefit equally from the collection. The collection ist complemented by the economic archives.



Search portal "SWA Search"

Newspaper cuttings

Search portal Newspaper cuttings

Electronic grey literature, journals and annual reports

Many contents of the documentation, businesses and organisations as well as subject-related themed documents with a publication date from 2005 onwards are available digitally as PDF documents and searchable in the search portal swisscovery Basel and in the SWA Search Portal.

Search portal for newspaper cuttings

Electronic newspaper cuttings from 2013 onwards, as well as retro-digitised newspaper cuttings until 2012, are available online in the computer network of the University of Basel and for members of universities and universities of applied sciences in Switzerland.


The e-Journals, databases and e-books of the University Library Basel are available on the premises of the Swiss Economic Archives.

Full texts from the Swiss Economic Archives on Wikisource

The Swiss Economic Archives provides important full texts from its document collections on Wikisource. The texts have undergone thorough proofreading and the exact original wording is guaranteed.

Rudolf Wackernagel, Geschichte der Stadt Basel (3 vols, 1907-1924)

Die Giftmörderin Frau Anna Maria Buser, eine aktenmäßige Darstellung von J. Ulrich Walser (1840)

Aerztliche Glossen zum Fabrikgesetz-Entwurf von Dr. C. Zehnder (1876)

Carl Spitteler, Unser Schweizer Standpunkt (1914/1915)

Karl Müller, Kriegsbriefe eines neutralen Offiziers (1915)

Robert Durrer, Kriegsbetrachtungen (1915)

Julius Landmann, Die Kriegsfinanzen der Grossmächte (1915)

Cardboard boxes of the economic documentation

Businesses and organisations

The documentation of businesses and organisations includes document collections of up to 20,000 corporate bodies from all economic sectors as well as from economic policy, particularly in Switzerland. In addition to businesses, organisations, social and academic institutions, authorities, railways, exhibitions, national exhibitions and international organisations are also represented. The document collections date from as far back as around 1910 – with some cases dating back to the 19th century – to the present day. They range in volume from a single folder to several archive boxes. They also include advertisements, technical documents and financial analyses.

Picture of travel catalogue with two tourists


The documentation of persons includes around 15,000 document collections on individuals from economics, politics and management, primarily covering Switzerland. The document collections date from as far back as around 1910 – with some cases dating back to the 19th century – to the present day. The level of recognition and journalistic echo of a person determines the extent of their document collection: it can range from one or two newspaper cuttings up to several archive boxes, along with biographies, autobiographies or obituaries.


Newspaper cuttings

Subject-specific topics

The subject-specific documentation records the Swiss economic development and economic policy over the course of history as well as in the present day. Around 5,000 document collections include documents from as far back as 1910 up to the present. Content-wise, the spectrum ranges from agricultural policy to bank secrecy, from the metal industry to housing questions up to demography. Some documentation dates as far back as the 19th century. There are also document collections on the national economies of foreign countries and on the economic relations between Switzerland and other countries.

The “Freiwirtschaftliche Bibliothek” (FB) is a special collection, which includes over 1350 works on the topic of "free economy", “free money”, and “free land”. Aside from writings by representatives of the free economic movement, there are further works on economic policy and economic theory.

Search and use

The documents of the FB are all recorded in swisscovery.
The documents of the FB are kept in the closed stacks and can be ordered and borrowed via the search portal swisscovery.

Further search possibilities:


The “Freiwirtschaftliche Bibliothek”

The “Freiwirtschaftliche Bibliothek” is the work of Basel citizen Paul Gysin (1911-1993). Over a period of around 35 years, he collated books, brochures and pamphlets on money and land reform in order to make them accessible for research.

Since the 1990s, the collection has been accessible at the University Business and Economics Library / Swiss Economic Archives (formerly known as WWZ-Library/SWA). The Belcampo NWO-Stiftung contributes to the collection of the FB.

The “Freiwirtschaftliche Bibliothek” documents the theoretical foundations of free economics, their economic policy demands and their reception in Switzerland.

Free economy

The free economic theory – founded by Silvio Gesell (1862-1930) – aspires to create a natural economic order (NEO). The basis of his theory was that money should not be hoarded. Rather, it should be constantly in circulation and property should be leased as free land.

From 1915, the political mouthpieces for Silvio Gesell’s ideas in Switzerland were the following organisations:

  • Schweizerischer Freiland-Freigeld-Bund (1915-1923)
  • Schweizerischer Freiwirtschaftsbund (1924-1943)
  • FBS Freiwirtschaftliche Bewegung der Schweiz (seit 1943)
  • LSPS, Liberalsozialistische Partei der Schweiz (1946-1990)
  • INWO Schweiz -  Internationale Vereinigung für Natürliche Wirtschaftsordnung Schweiz (seit 1990).

The “Freiwirtschaftliche Bibliothek” comprises a comprehensive collection of writings by the most important representatives of these organisations: Hans Bernoulli (1876-1959), Theophil Christen (1873-1920), Friedrich Salzmann (1915-1990), Werner Schmid (1898-1981), Fritz Schwarz (1887-1958), Hans-Konrad Sonderegger (1891-1944), Werner Zimmermann (1893-1982) and others.

The documents and document collections of the economic documentation can be found in our portal SWA Search.
"SWA Search" is the catalogue of the Swiss Economic Archives.
Furthermore, you can use the Search portal newspaper cuttings (login required) to search newspaper cuttings.

You can find documents and document collections of the economic documentation over the search portal swisscovery Basel.
Grey literature, monographs and annual reports are recorded in the catalogue and can be ordered. You can also find and order entire document collections (in boxes).
When searching for an item, combine the name of a company or organisation, the name of a person or a subject term together with the search term “Dokumentensammlung”.

The search portal swisscollections records only the document collections (in boxes), but not the single brochures, monographs, annual reports or journals. The tectonics gives an overview about the collection.
swisscollections is your gateway to historical and modern collections in Swiss libraries and archives.

You can order document collections via the catalogue or directly in the Special reading room of the University Business and Economics Library / Swiss Economic Archives, where they can be used on-site. Orders placed before 16:00 are generally available within 30 minutes.
You can order and borrow books and brochures from 1900 onwards via the catalogue.
You will need a swisscovery user account for ordering. Electronic resources are accessible directly.


You are permitted to copy or take photographs of documents from document collections. For professional reproductions of documents from the collections, the fees of the digitasation centre at the University Library Basel apply. The invoice will be sent by the University Library.


For the publication (print or online) of images or documents from the Swiss Economic Archives, the reproduction guidelines of the University of Basel (PDF) (in German) apply.

Citing from the SWA collections

Please take note of the citation guidelines (PDF, in German) for documents from the Swiss Economic Archives.

Loans for exhibitions

Please contact us to take out items on loan for exhibitions.