In comparison with neighbouring countries such as the Netherlands and Germany, Belgian interest in business archives and business history was rather late in developing. The General State Archivist Etienne Sabbe was the first in 1934 to draw attention to the importance of business archives for economic history. During the nineteenth century much interesting and valuable material was destroyed by archivists - for instance in Ghent - on the pretext that one cannot write history ‘á l’aide de bouquins de boulangers et de cordonniers’, with the help of books kept by bakers and shoemakers. 1