This is a guide to using DownsFamilyTrees.com (DFT). Please read this because there are things on DFT that may not be obvious but can significantly increase your enjoyment in using both DFT and DownsGenealogy.com (DG). This would be things like links to biographical sketches back in DG for the individual you are viewing in DFT. Research articles are also linked, but let’s start with some basics on DFT’s homepage, shown below.
There are three menu items on the top navigation bar. They are as follows:
- Downs Genealogy – connects to my grandfather’s, John Downs’s(#18), family tree.
- Hopkins Genealogy – connects to my grandmother’s, Helen (Hopkins) Downs’s(#19), family tree.
- DownsGenealogycom ̶ connects to the homepage at DownsGenealogy.com.
These three links are, to the best of my knowledge, the only links in both DFT and DG that do not open up in a different tab. I like using separate tabs because you don’t lose your place when you are going through stuff. I’ll probably figure out how to code that one day.
If you note to the right, you can search for people on the family tree by name and go directly to whomever you want. You can put in “Stephen Hopkins” and see my grandmother’s ancestor, and progenitor of the Hopkins name in Massachusetts, and begin your journey there.
The red rectangle shows you the blurb that explains DFT and at the end the red arrow points to the link that brings you to this guide. It will open in a separate tab.
The red rectangle shows a bunch of links towards the bottom to take you to different sections. Feel free to play around down there and look, but most of it is not yet set up. One day I will probably set up the “cemetery” section and include maps so you can click to a map and find the grave. For now, I just got the basics up and running.
You may find places inviting you to log in. The software allows for private areas for people who might still be alive, etc. I have uploaded no one from my parents’ generation down, as there are a few still around, so no one is uploaded that is marked private. You have access to the entire database as uploaded without logging in. The only login I have set up is my own so I can change and build here.
You can always return to this homepage on DFT by clicking on the globe shown above.
If you click on “Downs Genealogy” (#1 in Figure 1, above) on the navigation bar, it takes you to the ancestry family tree of my grandfather, John Downs(#18). I had originally intended this to link to Thomas Downs since he is the Downs focal point of DG, but the tree was small as it just listed him and his parents. (This is as far as I have information.) Linking to my grandfather also keeps things consistent from my point of view since the “Hopkins Genealogy” link goes to my grandmother.
In Figure 6 above, you are looking at the ancestry tree for my grandfather. The red arrow points to a downward pointing, rectangular arrow. If you hover the mouse over it, a small window opens up, showing you a lot more information on the individual.
The red rectangle marks a series of tabs, and we can see that we are looking at the “Ancestry” of John William Downs because that tab is highlighted in blue. We can see the options for this tab right below, also in blue. These options include how many generations are shown, horizontal or vertical chart, etc.
We know that the tabs apply to John William Downs because his name and picture are at the top left. We can click on the “Individual” tag, the one farthest to the left, and it brings us to the Individuals page on DFT, shown below.
Here is a wealth of information on the individual. I want to bring your attention to the red arrow I have placed and the corresponding blowup of the detail. There is a field called “Biographical Sketch,” and there is a link there called “Biographical Sketch – John W. Downs.” This link takes you to his biography on DownsGenealogy.com. Not everyone has one, but if they do, it will appear here. If they don’t, the blank field will not appear to keep things neat. As time goes on, you should start seeing more and more of these. I will announce them in the blog as I add them.
All of the names in the charts, trees, and sheets are clickable links. If we click on John’s father, Thomas, we are taken to his individual page, shown below.
This time, the arrow and blown up section show you another special field. This time it points to an article on DG called, “Thomas Downs’s Death Certificate.” Again, clicking the link will open the article in a separate tab. While Biographical Sketches are just that, biographies, articles often contain the research that supports the facts in the biographical sketches. This one for Thomas looks into his death certificate, all of the errors it contains, how I figured out what could be trusted and even a theory as to why it all happened as it did. You might find some articles fascinating and other boring, but they will all be here for you to peruse.
Now press on his family tab, and a cool family chart will appear (not shown here). After you are done looking at that rather neat presentation, click on the “Group Sheet” tab (red arrow, Figure 9). A group sheet depicts a father, a mother, and their children. It should look like this.
While this looks similar to Thomas’s individual sheet, notice there is no “Article” field with a link pointing to his death certificate article. Articles and Biographical Sketches will not appear on any page except that individual information sheet.
This is just a brief guide to get you started. Play around and explore. YOU CAN’T BREAK ANYTHING HERE. I promise. If you get messed up, click on the globe and go back to the beginning. If you have any questions, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.