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).