During the Monarchial period (3rd B.C to 1815 A.D) there had been an officers who was in charge of the royal (kings) archives and the 19th century account of Hay Macdowall reveals an officer called ‘Maha Mohotti’ as the officer who maintained the kandyan archives of the Royal palace during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Systematic archives keeping was introduced by the Dutch who occupied the maritime districts of Sri Lanka from 1640 to1796 A.D. In 1640 archives was housed at Galle and from 1656 to 1796 it was located in Colombo The post of Government Archivist was created in 1901 and the archives which functioned as a part of the Colonial/ Chief Secretaries office during the British period was established as the Department of the Government Archivist in1947. During the Independence Era the National Archives Law No. 48 of 1973 was enacted and the Department was re-named as the Department of National Archives.