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The Kenya National Archives and Documentation Service was officially established by an Act of Parliament in 1965 which tasked it with management of all public records. It was revised in 1990 to incorporate the National Documentation and Information Retrieval Service, created to cater for government publications and other generally circulated documents.

The KNADS is placed under the Ministry of Gender, Culture, the Arts and Heritage, specifically the State Department for Culture, the Arts and Heritage. It has branches in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Kakamega, and Nyeri.