Gramps 3.0 Wiki Manual - Manage Family Trees: CSV Import and Export

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Gramps Spreadsheet Import/Export

This format allows you to import/export a spreadsheet of data all at once. The spreadsheet must be in the Comma Separated Value (CSV) format. Most spreadsheet programs can read and write this format. It is also easy to write by hand.

There are three main uses for this format:

  1. You can export your core gramps data into a spreadsheet format, edit it with a text or spreadsheet program, and import the changes and additions back into gramps. This is handy for sending to others to fill in, or for taking on the road when you don't have your full gramps application.
  2. You can import new data into your gramps database. For example, if you have a set of new people to add to your database, but don't want to hunt and peck your way to finding where they go, you might find it easier to type them into a spreadsheet, and then quickly suck all of them in at once. This is handy if you have a large amount of data that you are cutting and pasting from another application or the web. An example of this is restoring your GRAMPS database by loading the Narrative Website into a spreadsheet.
  3. You can also import a set of corrections and additions. Say that you have printed out a report, and you are going through it marking corrections. If you make each correction a section of a spreadsheet, you can "script the edits" and then execute them all at once.


To export your database:

  1. Start gramps
  2. Select "Export" from the File menu
  3. Select "Comma Separated Values Spreadsheet (CSV)"

A selected set of fields of your genealogy data will be saved to a .csv file in the format described below. In addition, the people and familes are referenced so that the data can be edited and read back in, thereby updating the database.

There are some columns that will be blank, specifically note and source columns. These are listed in the spreadsheet so that you can make notes for the import, but notes and sources are never exported with this tool.

Your data is broken up into three sections representing individuals, marriages, and children. The exported fields and column names are:


Person, Lastname, Firstname, Callname, Suffix, Prefix, Title, Gender, Birthdate, Birthplace, Birthsource, Deathdate, Deathplace, Deathsource, Note


Marriage, Husband, Wife, Date, Place, Source, Note


Family, Child

The first column in each area is the gramps ID. That is what will tie your edits back to the correct data, so don't alter those data. Load this file into your favorite spreadsheet using comma separated, double-quote text delimited, and Text format (any encoding for now). Then you can add or correct data, and save it back out, keeping the same format. You can then import the data back ontop of your old data and it will be corrected.


To import your data:

  1. use the file from above, or create a spreadsheet (described below) with genealogical data
  2. start up gramps
  3. import the file into your current database

The merge part of this code will only add or update information to your database, and it always assume that the spreadsheet data is the correct version.

If you load this spreadsheet into Open Office, make sure you select each column as type Text rather than Standard. Standard will reformat your dates and numbers. Also, if you use Excel, you will probably want to select all cells once opened, and change the format of the cells to Text.

The spreadsheet is data made up of columns. Each column should have at the top of it the name of what type of data is in the column. You must use special names for the columns. Currently they are:


person -  a reference to be used for families (marriages, and children) 
grampsid - to assign a gramps id to the person
firstname - a person's first name
surname/lastname - a person's last name
callname - a common name (nickname) for the person
prefix - surname prefix (von, de, etc)
suffix - a suffex of a person's name (Jr., Sr.)
title - a person's title (Dr., Mr.)
gender - male or female (you should use the translation for your language)
note - a note for the person's record
birthdate - date of birth
birthplace - place of birth
birthsource - source material for birth
grampsid - give a particular gramps id
deathdate - date of death
deathplace - place of death
deathsource - source material for death
deathcause - cause of death


marriage - if you want to reference this from a family, you'll need a matching name here
husband/father/parent1 - the reference of the person above who is the husband 
                         (for female parent1, you'll need to put gender in the person area, 
                         or edit it later in gramps)
wife/mother/parent2 - the reference of the person above who is the wife 
                         (for male parent2, you'll need to put gender in the person area, 
                         or edit it later in gramps)
date - the date of the marriage
place - the place of the marriage
source - source materials of the marriage
note - a note about the marriage/wedding


family - a reference to tie this to a marriage above (required)
child - the reference of the person above who is a child
source - source materials of the marriage
note - a note about the family
gender - male or female (you should use the translation for your language) 
         [You can put gender here, or in person above]

Case doesn't matter. Notice that the names don't use underscores in them. You may use any combination of these, in any order. (Actually, you have to at least have a surname and a firstname when defining a person, and you have to have a marriage and child columns when defining children, but that's about it.) The column names are the English names given (for now) but the data should be in your language (including the words "male" and "female").

Each of these can go in its own area in a spreadsheet. There is no limit to the number of areas in a sheet, and each area can have any number of rows. Leave a blank row between "areas". Just make sure that areas are not next to each other; they must be above and below one another.

You can have mutiple areas of each kind on a spreadsheet. The only limitation is that if you refer to a person, you must do that in a row lower than where that person is described. Likewise, if you refer to a marriage, you must do that in a row lower than where the marriage is described.

If you are entering the data in a text file, and if you wish to have a comma inside one of the values, like "Clinton, Co., MO" then you need place the entire value in double-quotes and put the first double-quote right after the preceding comma. For example:

marriage, person1, person2, place
m1, p1, p2,"Clinton, Co., MO"
m2, p3, p4,"Havertown, PA"

A spreadsheet program will do this automatically for you.

Here is an example spreadsheet in Open Office, but any spreadsheet program should work.

Notice that the data need not begin in the first column, nor in the first row.

And here is the resulting data in gramps:

Here is an example of a CSV text spreadsheet with multiple areas:

Firstname, Surname, Birthdate
John,      Tester,  11/11/1965
Sally,     Tester,  01/26/1973

Person, Firstname, Surname
p1,     Tom,       Smith
p2,     Mary,      Jones
p3,     Jonnie,    Smith
p5,     James,     Loucher
p6,     Penny,     Armbruster
p7,     Tim,       Sparklet

Marriage, Husband, Wife
m1,       p1,      p2
m2,       p5,      p6

Family, Child
m1,     p3
m1,     p6
m2,     p7

If you cut and paste that into a file, you can import it directly.

If you make your references be gramps IDs inside square brackets, then you can refer to people already in the database, like this:

Person,    Firstname, Lastname
joe's boy, Harry,     Smith

Family,  Child
[F1524], joe's boy

Husband, Wife
[I0123], [I0562]

firstname, surname
Timothy, Jones

This example would create and add Harry Smith to the previously existing family in gramps, family F1524.

Also, this example would marry two previously existing people, I0123, and I0562.

Finally, this also creates a person named Timothy Jones who is not related to anyone.

Real World Example

In this example, I had an entire generation to enter, 16 names with marriage dates. The children I already had in the database. I entered them into Open Office:


Notice that you can use numbers or strings as the reference names between areas. In the person area, I used the numbers 1 through 16. That made it easy to refer to them in the second area of marriages. The marriages are labeled with the letters A through H.

HINT: Open Office allows you to turn off autoformatting when you open the CSV file. If you don't do this, Open Office may interpret the dates incorrectly. Change the type of the column to Text rather than Standard. If your spreadsheet program doesn't allow you to format the fields before you get it into columns (eg, Excel) you need to change the display format of dates in gramps before you export. You can do this under Edit -> Preferences -> Display -> Date Format.

Also note that the children in the third area are existing people as indicated by the brackets around the gramps IDs.

Saving as CSV and importing into gramps produces the far right-hand column in the tree:


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