The Grivel Website was started by me, Eric Grivel, in December 1999. Why a Grivel Website, and why did I start one? If you want to know the answers to these questions, read on.
You will notice that this page is a very personal account of mine. This is because the reasons I had to start this Web site were very personal. It does not mean that this site will for ever remain my private toy. On the contrary, I really hope that others will get involved and will leave their marks. Right now however, as I am writing this less than two months after I started this site, it is still very much mine.
My grandfather, Emile Charles Grivel, was interested in the family origin, and did some rudimentary genealogical investigation. He traced the paternal line back to Henry Grivel, who arrived in the Netherlands from Switzerland around 1780. There the trail ended for him, and it would take research in Swiss archives to continue this track, something I haven't been able to do yet myself.
My grandfather died in 1962, when I was just one year old. I don't have any memories of my grandfather, but my father kept the notes and told us as children of our Swiss origins. It was only after I finished college and started working as a computer programmer that I got really interested in genealogy myself, eventually discovering most of the history of the Grivel family in the Netherlands.
In 1995, my family and I relocated to the U.S.A., and research in the Dutch archives became practically impossible. Fortunately, the Internet started its phenomenal growth right around that time, and I looked at the possibilities to use it for my genealogical work. As a programmer, I started out by publishing the result of my investigation. The resulting site can still be found here (although I no longer update that site).
By this time, I had become interested in more than just my own family. Growing up, my brother and I always had a "different" surname. When I started my genealogical research, I found out that there were only a handful of people with the name Grivel in all of The Netherlands, all of them close relatives. But it was coming to the United States and being able to search the whole US telephone directory that made me realize how rare this name really is. Only about a dozen listed Grivels in the whole United States! Suddenly, it seemed feasible to collect all information about the name Grivel, not just about my own family.
Even though I didn't realize it at the time (1996), the idea for this Grivel Website was born when I did the Internet telephone search. A single place for all information about the name Grivel, a place where genealogical information can be found and shared, and where Grivels from all over the world can meet and exchange experiences.
The concrete idea for this site came much later, somewhere in 1999. It was the realization of one of the other great potentials of the Internet, the ability to publish for a niche market, that made me realize that I had just such a nice market on my hands: the people with the name Grivel. With only a few handful of Grivels per country (with, as far as I know, the only exceptions being France and Switzerland), a traditional family 'club' with meetings and a newsletter would be practically impossible. A virtual meeting place, however, costs almost nothing but some time, and is accessible to a rapidly growing part of the world.
Only one last thing was needed for this site to start: unique content. Something to make it special, interesting, attractive. Something at least to peak people's interest enough to make them want to come back and, eventually, contribute. That content came from the combination of my own genealogical database with the original information on American Grivels discovered by Karen Cobeen, and from what I titled the Grivel Link Project.
The Grivel Link Project started out of my frustration with the results of Internet searches for the name Grivel. Over the years, I would every now and then do a search on Yahoo! or Excite or one of the other search engines for "Grivel", and they would return whole piles of results. Most of these results, however, either referred to the www.grivel.com Web site (through pages on climbing and mounteneering), or to the grivel.une.edu.au FTP server in Australia (through pages on HAM radio). The few interesting links would be burried in that mass.
I got tired of wading through the same links over and over again, and decided to automate the process. This is the Grivel Link Project: the results of the Internet searches are stored in a database on my home system, divided into different categories for the different subjects of the link target. Every night, my home computer checks a lot of those links, and then updates the link pages with the latest status information. These link pages are then automatically uploaded to the Grivel Website.
With the genealogical database and the Link Project, I believed I had a viable start of a Web site. Early December 1999, I signed up with tripod for a free Web site, egrivel.tripod.com, and the Grivel Website was born.