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Iowa History Daily: March 28 - Photographer Elwin Musser

Iowa History Daily: On March 28, 2015, award-winning photographer Elwin Musser passed away. Best known for his 1959 Pulitzer Prize nominated photography of the Buddy Holly plane crash, Musser spent his career snapping shots for Mason City’s Globe Gazette.

Hired as the first full-time photographer at the Globe in 1946, Musser paired an exceptional eye for composition with technical precision. For thirty-five years, Musser illustrated the life and times of North Iowa and those who called the area home. Musser started his career with a 4x5 Speed Graphic Camera before switching to 33mm in the later years of his career.

Musser received a nomination for a Pulitzer Prize for his work covering the 1959 plane crash which killed rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper, and pilot Roger Peterson known as “The Day the Music Died.” The series of images create a nearly complete photographic record of the crash aftermath. 

Musser’s career included many other notable events. On hand for President Harry Truman’s stop in Worth County during 1952, the 1954 Braniff Airlines crash in Swaledale, Pope John Paull II’s visit to Iowa during 1979, and many other memorable moments, Musser left a legacy of documenting many of the state’s important moments. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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