In 1997, The Gay and Lesbian Archives (GALA) was founded to combat the systematic erasure of queer stories from official archives, histories, and elsewhere in South Africa. Now, in 2017, Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (still under the acronym GALA) celebrates its 20th Anniversary, and part of this celebration comes in the form of their exhibit, “Out of the Box.” This exhibition presents to visitors the stories, objects, and people preserved in GALA’s collections. The archives currently contain more than 200 collections, many of which go back as far as the 1940s. All of these materials are preserved in accordance with the archives’ mission, “to act as a catalyst for the production, preservation and dissemination of knowledge on the history, culture and contemporary experiences of LGBTIQ people.”
Their collections include materials relating to cultural organizations and events like the Out in Africa Festival, they hold a large collection of news items, as well as a collection of oral histories. These oral histories seek, “to flesh out our white-dominated, male-dominated recorded history with the roles and stories of black, female and trans activists, as well as the everyday lives and experiences of queer black South Africans.”
Among the questions I have about GALA is how they appraise materials donated to them. The only indication on their website is to call them and speak with them, but that they are happy to take, “that box of letters you saved not quite knowing why.” Their appraisal practices and organization of their collections interest me because I understand that there are differences in archival practice internationally. Their Archival Guide is available online via pdf for those who wish to examine their collections before a visit. In reading through it myself, I saw the names of their collections, which are further described but only at the collection level, which includes the number of boxes or folders. This is an excellent resource for those who would seek to use their materials. One of the questions that remains for me, having read their Archival Guide, is how they address original order, and the other processes that precede a finalized finding aid or Archival Guide. In all, GALA is a fascinating repository that does much to give back to its community outside what I have described here, and should my blog somehow find South African readers interested in LGBTIQ history, you should visit.
 Linda Chernis, “Out of the Box: A Glimpse Into 20 Years of Queer Archiving,” Huffington Post, November 20th, 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/linda-chernis/out-the-box-a-glimpse-into-20-years-of-queer-archiving_a_23280655/. (Accessed 12/1/17).
 Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action, “Donate Your Records,” Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action, http://www.gala.co.za/archives_research/collections.htm. (Accessed 12/1/2017).
 Anthony Manion, Graeme Reid, et al., Guide to the Archival Collections of Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (updated 2017).
In Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (MIAC) is now searching for fellows to conduct research based on the stored data available through their Indigenous Digital Archive (IDA). The IDA emerged last year, funded by national grants, and contains materials from around the country with a specific focus on New Mexico’s Indian boarding schools, and water and land claims from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries. Applications for these research fellowships were due November 11th, and by the time research commences in March, the MIAC intends to have IDA fully operational. The research fellowships exist primarily to jump-start the use of the museum’s collections, and furthermore to encourage others to do so as well. Their hope is that when others see the knowledge being produced through the records available through the Indigenous Digital Archive, they will be encouraged to follow suit. This strikes me as a fascinating form of outreach. Instead of telling folks what is available in their collections, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture is funding researchers to show what is possible.
This is only the latest step in outreach that the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture has taken. The IDA itself originated to meet the needs of those who wanted to access the museum’s records but could not travel to them in order to do so. A few years ago when Della Warrior first became the MIAC’s director, she met with roughly 100 representatives from New Mexico’s many tribal communities in an effort to learn how the MIAC could better serve them. The general response called for easier access to materials, which culminated in the IDA. The IDA itself will start by publishing 150 linear feet of government microfilmed records, which equates to roughly 270,000 pages from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the U.S. National Archives.
I wrote before about Arizona State University’s efforts to use their holdings to tell the state’s diverse histories. Theirs was one story of outreach that I felt held potential. I would say the work being done at MIAC, led by Della Warrior, is an exceptional example of archival outreach. Their Indigenous Digital Archive was created to accommodate public demand and to increase accessibility, and to further increase the usage of their digitized records the MIAC is funding research fellows to show the tribal communities across New Mexico the possibilities waiting for them. These research fellows can conduct genealogical research into their families or create projects that “amplify the information in the indigenous documents.” The work being done at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture strikes me as exemplary, and I strongly agree with Director Della Warrior’s expectations for their collections newfound accessibility; “It’s going to be like a gold mine.”
 Megan Bennett, “’A Gold Mine’ of Native Documents,” Albuquerque Journal, November 10th, 2017. https://www.abqjournal.com/1090776/a-gold-mine-of-native-documents.html. (Accessed, 12/1/17).