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The Hesston Record
345 Old Hwy 81
Hesston, KS 67062
(620) 327-4831

Icon of Hesston History Going Digital

Posted 5/11/2017

Record Staff

The legacy of Lyle Yost and Hesston Corp will be going digital thanks to a grant from to the Hesston Public Library.

After Lyle Yost’s death in 2012, the family donated his Hesston Corp items to the library for archiving in 2014.  Today, they are part of Kansas State Historical Records Advistory Board’s Kansas Access to Historical Records Grant Program to be scanned, have gleaned for metadata and uploaded to the library’s Digital Special Collections and Kansas Memory - a site repository for the Kansas Historical Society.

Heston Public Library Director Libby Albers said much of the information is “truly some of the corporate ephemera. It wasn’t intended to live beyond its time or live beyond just being in a file cabinet.”  

Albers said the donated materials will take upwards of 200 hours to organize, scan, upload and compile metadata on. 

Items like hand-written ledgers, sales reports, newsletters and sales pamphlets were neatly preserved by Yost. Several scrap books, created by Yost himself, hold dozens of pages of neatly clipped and pasted newspaper articles, advertisements and promotions.

“No other cohesive collection of Corporation archives is known to exist,” said Albers.

Albers also noted creating a digitally accessible version of the collection ensures it cannot be lost or damaged.

“Although the collection, in its current condition, could be made physically accessible upon request, digitizing the collection will create a globally-accessible archive of 40-years of agricultural innovation and a behind-the-scenes look at an iconic brand,” she said.

The importance of “The Corp” was made clear, as Albers said there were three masters’ degree thesis papers included in the collection on the importance of Hesston Corporation in the community.  At one time, up to 70 percent of Hesstonians worked for The Corp.

Albers said the process of digitizing and making the Yost collection more easily available was a perfect fit for the grant.

“They were looking for unique projects that tell the State’s story. The Hesston Corp was a really good fit. It was a homegrown entity that had a lot of innovation, a lot of patents and became an international industry. The logo is one for our sports teams; it sponsored the Rodeo, which has outlived the corp itself,” said Albers.

Within the collection, Albers said some of the most interesting pieces of corporate history have survived.

“It’s fun because it’s not current information. It’s the kitschy 1960s. You see the fashion, the hairstyles, even the HR manuals,” she said.

In addition to seeing the broader culture, Albers said many of the names and faces are familiar.

“You see the names of people who are still here in the community who worked for the Corp as young people mid-century,” she said.

With many community members having direct connections to Hesston Corp, Albers said the hunt continues for items to add to the collection.

“We know more is sitting in peoples’ garages and attics. We have had some fun donations of shirts, jackets, coveralls - having those tangible items people can see and touch, it helps tell the Yost story,” Albers said.