MANGUM, Okla. (KFOR) — There is buried treasure in acetate and perforated plastic.

For the past year, Brenda Daigle and assistants like Maddison Meeker have been bringing life back to a photographic archive that tells the story of Mangum, Oklahoma from the 1930’s through the 1970’s.

“I actually cried the first time I saw them,” recalls Daigle. “The stories are amazing. Every time I come across a new negative and I look at it, I’m like, ‘this is somebody’s mother and we’re going to find out who she is’.”

The building that once housed the Fike Studio is still there but the Fikes themselves sold out more than 40 years ago.

The black and white images of their history shows a busy place where high school seniors, families, and babies would come and sit for a session.

By the time it closed close to a half-million negatives crowded for space next to the darkroom.

“They were probably on their way to the dumpster,” says Daigle. “Someone saved them, bought them, and brought them here.”

Eventually they made their way to the Old Greer County Museum.

They sat on shelves here for years until Daigle moved to town from Florida with a Masters Degree in Public History.

Photo goes with story
Image KFOR

She wrote, and received, a grant to have the negatives scanned and restored, all 500,000 of them.

“It’s going to take quite a while,” she smiles.

“This is a years long project,” observed a museum visitor.

“Right,” answers Brenda.

She scans as many as 50 negatives each day.

Brenda likes the baby pictures especially.

After each photo is scanned on her computer, she posts them to a Facebook page that often gets an immediate response.

“Everybody was like, ‘holy cow’,” she recalls.

The girls’ basketball team photo from the White Flat School, a 1953 action shot of the Mangum All-Stars; each scan reveals something.

Even severely damaged negatives can be brought back to life.

The Fike negatives have revealed much already, with boxes more to go.

“I love my job,” says Daigle.

If you’d like to see more of the Fike Studio Collection the Old Greer County Museum has a constantly updated archive with comments from the public included on their Facebook Group Page.

Great State is sponsored by WEOKIE Credit Union