While the establishment of the National Archives of Singapore (NAS) has a relatively short history, it can trace its roots back to the creation of the post of Archivist within the Raffles Museum and Library in 1938. Then, Tan Soo Chye was appointed to trace, record, organise and preserve the historical colonial records and to perform research and administrative work spanning both the library and museum. In 1967, the National Archives and Records Centre Act was passed, and NAS was established the following year in 1968. In 1993, NAS together with the National Museum came under the management of the National Heritage Board. Due to a reorganisation of government ministries and portfolios, the NAS has since been transferred to become an institution under the National Library Board on 1 November 2012.
For the first 29 years, the organisation was housed in several different locations before moving to its current home at 1 Canning Rise in 1997. As NAS continued to fulfil its role as keeper of records of national and historical significance, it faced the challenge of housing its growing archival holdings. In 2005, NAS acquired the Former Ford Factory site where the British surrendered to the Japanese during World War II. The site underwent extensive development and a new repository was developed to house the growing archival collection. In addition, anchoring on archival records and the significance of the site, NAS curated an exhibition showcasing the memories of life during the Japanese Occupation.