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SF Editors Visit John Deere Archives

A team of Successful Farming video producers and editors traveled to East Moline, Illinois, Monday for an exclusive tour of John Deere’s archives.

The facilities house an extensive collection of machinery, historical artifacts, and paper records dating back more than a century. Tours were led by Corporate Archives and History Manager Neil Dahlstrom and Historical Equipment Manager Brian Holst. Both men were interviewed for an upcoming 30-minute SF Special scheduled to premier on RFD-TV on March 29, 2018. They also shared more in Facebook Live interviews about their day-to-day roles and the assets they manage.

In addition to the tractors in the machinery collection, there are a number of seed drills, snowmobiles, and bicycles. Deere can’t keep one of everything it has ever produced so company archivists must decide which milestone, prototype, and futuristic products should be preserved. From there, the team decides whether or not to restore the piece. Even if the decision is made to keep a machine in its current condition, Holst works to preserve and maintain it. Holst is a trained ag mechanic who became interested in old machinery when he worked in a salvage yard that specialized in two-cylinder tractors. Now he maintains, coordinates logistics for, and answers questions about Deere’s collection of mechanical artifacts.

Several machines from this collection are rotated through displays at the John Deere Pavillion, museums, historical sites, and Deere offices and factories. This summer, Holst will make sure 13 pieces from the East Moline collection will be on display at John Deere’s celebration of 100 years in the tractor business in Waterloo, Iowa. The event takes place June 15-16, 2018. Holst looks forward to seeing collectors, past employees, and the community connect with the exhibits.

As a trained archivist, Dahlstorm spends much of his time working with shelves and shelves of paper and film artifacts in the stacks. In this area of the archives, massive storage shelves on automated tracks house art, photos, and record books in a light- and temperature-controlled environment. Recently, by connecting details from a newspaper in the collection and a set of handcolored lantern slides they’d been storing for 15 years or more, Dahlstom and his team discovered the slides may have been used 100 years ago when the WaterlooBoy tractor was debuted in Salina, Kansas. Dahlstrom enjoys helping people in and outside John Deere get to know the real people who’ve dedicated thier time to serving the company and its farmer customers over the years. To help share those stories, Deere archivists have published a selection of historic films dating back as far as 1929 on YouTube in a series called “Out of the Vault.”


To learn more about John Deere and its contributions to agriculture, check out these recent articles from Executive Machinery and Tech Editor Dave Mowitz.

The Deere archivist team publishes some of their work in the John Deere Journal, and on YouTube.

Stay tuned to for continued coverage as John Deere celebrates 100 years in the tractor business. The 30-minute SF Special featuring both Holst and Dahlstrom will premier March 29, 2018, on RFD-TV.

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