The Kenya National Archives

Cite as:

Okune, Angela and Trevas Matathia. 2019. "The Kenya National Archives." In Scholarly Memory in Nairobi, Kenya: Care for Sites and Sourcescreated by Angela Okune, Trevas Matathia and Syokau Mutonga. In Innovating STS Digital Exhibit, curated by Aalok Khandekar and Kim Fortun. Society for Social Studies of Science. August.

Essay Meta-Narrative

The Kenya National Archives (KNA) in its current form was established on the eve of Kenyan independence in 1963 and was formalized through an Act of Parliament in 1965. The holdings include documents generated from the 60-70 years of Kenya’s colonial administration by the British and government documents and research generated in the postcolonial period (although the archive makes materials public only after 30 years have passed). The Kenya National Archive is one of the few on the continent that successfully migrated its archives back from Britain; this stands in contrast to the fact that Syracuse University (USA) holds a microfilm collection of the Kenya National Archives. The microfilm project began in 1964 with a grant from the United States of America’s National Science Foundation. The Archive's ebbs and flows are well documented by scholars like Mnjama (2003).

This essay is part of a broader essay on Scholarly Memory in Nairobi, Kenya which includes McMillan Library, Kenya National Museum Library, British Institute in Eastern Africa Archives, Kenya National Archives, and PALIAct Ukombozi Library.

Essay Bibliography

AFP. 2018. “The Faces behind the Revival of the McMillan Library.” Daily Nation , August 11, 2018. more

Shared Questions: Innovating STS

All Innovating STS exhibits are oriented by nine shared questions in order to generate comparative insight. These are:

ARTICULATION: What STS innovations (of theory, methodology, pedagogy...Read more

About Innovating STS

Furthering its theme, Innovations, Interruptions, Regenerations , the 2019 annual 4S meeting in New Orleans will include a special exhibit, Innovating STS , that showcases innovations ...Read more


This section foregrounds artifacts created about this site either by the founders, key actors involved in the site, or others. It also includes materials that are interlinked or related such as descriptions about the digital repository third-party organizations or relevant materials found in the spaces themselves.

Syracuse University Libraries: Kenya National Archives

AO: This is a pdf of the Syracuse University Libraries' website which they states serves as a guide to the Kenyan National Archive collections at Syracuse University Libraries. I also included a sub-page within the site which describes how Syracuse University libraries partnered with KNA...Read more

Gregory, Robert. 1984. “The Development of the Eastern Africa Collection at Syracuse University.” The Courier, October.

AO: This article by Robert Gregory was linked to from the Syracuse Libraries website as providing more context for how Syracuse University came to hold the microfilm collection of/for the Kenya National Archives.

Abstract: "With the...Read more

Mnjama, Nathan. 2003. “Archives and Records Management in Kenya: Problems and Prospects.” Records Management Journal, April.

AO: This article by Nathan Mnjama was published in 2003 and describes the challenges and successes of the Kenya National Archives.Read more

Kemoni, N. Henry, and Patrick Ngulube. “National Archives and the Effective Management of Public Sector Records in Kenya,” 2007.

TM: This is a research report on the findings of the challenges faced by government ministries and state departments in Kenya. It contains a detailed report of findings from 157 research participants identifying the challenges that hamper effective government intersectionality in regard to...Read more

Carotenuto Matthew and Katherine Luongo. “Navigating the Kenya National Archives: Research and Its Role in Kenyan Society.” History in Africa 32 (ed 2005)

TM: Interesting peice that prepares the researcher of the wealth of resources at the Kenya National Archives. However, this archaival resources come at a price as the anthropologically romanticized struggle researchers face at the archives as they navigate the waters of the KNA is documented in...Read more


TM: A thesis that is an assesment of the e-readiness of KNADS and its impact on provision of Archival information to researchers with view with view to coming up with the best practise model to enhance access to archaival information. Read more

Fenton, Siobhan. 2017. “Why Do Archive Files on Britain’s Colonial Past Keep Going Missing?” The Guardian (blog). December 27, 2017

TM: This Guardian article describes the interesting predicament that is happening at Britain's archives especially in matters surrounding Britain's colonial past. This has interesting insights on the lives of the people it affects namely, the people who bore the brunt of Emperial Britain and the...Read more

Fedha, N.W. 1972. "The Role of the Archives in Research." Conference Paper. Nairobi, Kenya.

AO: In February 2019, I came across this document written in 1972 by one of the early chief archivists of the Kenya National Archives (N.W. Fedha). The document outlines the early history of the Kenya National Archives as well as the rationale and motivation for its creation...Read more

Kariuki, Collins. 2019. “National Archives: From Bank to a Haven of Knowledge.” Daily Nation, May 31, 2019.

AO: This brief Daily Nation article from May 31, 2019 outlines the history of the building and describes how: "[b]y offering internships, attachments and volunteer opportunities to youth, the Archives continues to play a critical role in the lives of Kenyans." I included the article to...Read more