Windows Grep can search delimited and fixed-width data files at a field level. Such files are usually data files of some sort where each line is formatted the same.
This page describes how to use Windows Grep to search the California birth and death indexes, which are examples of the two types of file.
The search criteria dialog box gives options for selecting the type of file to be searched:
Here is an example delimited text file: (the first few lines of the a California birth index for 1905):
ABBAY,THELMA, ,12/07/1905,FEMALE,GRISWALD,SAN FRANCISCO
ABBOTT, , ,08/10/1905,FEMALE,WELLS,SAN FRANCISCO
ABBOTT,CORA, ,10/22/1905,FEMALE,GERLACH,SAN FRANCISCO
ABE,SHOICHI, ,06/12/1905,MALE,YAMASAKI,SAN FRANCISCO
Each line consists of 7 fields separated by commas. The first one is the child’s surname, and the last, field 7, is the place of birth.
If a search is made on this file using the text file format setting of Normal, searches for particular names will be done at a line-level resulting in the possibility of false matches.
A search for “Jose” would find births with surnames Jose, mothers with a maiden name Jose and births in San Jose which probably wouldn’t be what’s required.
If the text file format is set to Delimited list, it is possible to specify which field to search in, and also the field separator character (a comma in this case, but is also commonly a tab or a semicolon)
So, to find births to mothers with a maiden name Jose, select field 6.
To find Jose as the child’s surname, select field 1.
Regular expressions and soundex searches can be used at a field-level. (Soundex is particularly useful for searching for names where you are not sure of the spelling).
Here is an example of a fixed width list, the same information as above, but formatted differently. Notice how the fields line up vertically in the file.
In order to search individual fields, it is necessary to know the starting column of the field of interest and its width. A good way of working this out is by typing a ruler line above the data i.e.
This time, to search in the 7th field, for example, you need to specify a start position is 52 and a field width of 13, while to search the 2nd field, specify a start position of 10 and a width of 8
Regular expressions and soundex searches can be also be used at a field-level in these types of file.
Searching CADI and CABI files
The California birth and death indexes are massive text files. It is not practical to load them into Excel or Access because they are too large. For this reason, Windows Grep is the ideal tool. Searches can be made on them as they are without loading them into any other program. List searching functions were added primarily in response to the growing number of genealogists using Windows Grep for searching these files.
The following information provides field definitions for the two types of file.
The CABI files are comma delimited files with a CSV extension. The fields are as follows:
|4||DATE OF BIRTH|
|6||MOTHER'S MAIDEN NAME|
|7||PLACE OF BIRTH|
The CADI files are fixed width files with a DAT extension. The fields are as follows:
|1||1||33||LAST NAME OF DECEDENT|
|2||34||24||FIRST NAME OF DECEDENT|
|3||59||25||MIDDLE NAME OF DECEDENT|
|4||84||10||DATE OF DECEDENT'S BIRTH|
|5||94||25||DECEDENT'S MOTHER FIRST NAME|
|6||119||33||DECEDENT'S MOTHER MAIDEN NAME|
|7||152||25||DECEDENT'S FATHER FIRST NAME|
|8||177||22||DECEDENT'S FATHER LAST NAME|
|9||210||1||SEX OF DECEDENT|
|10||211||2||BIRTHPLACE OF DECEDENT|
|11||213||2||PLACE WHERE DEATH OCCURRED|
|12||215||2||RESIDENCE PLACE CODE|
|13||217||10||DATE OF DECEDENT'S DEATH|
|14||227||9||SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER|
|15||236||1||AGE GROUP OF DECEDENT|
|16||237||2||A AGE UNIT OF DECEDENT|