Elmer Birdell Gift, a native Kansan, spent his active years in educational work. He is now city superintendent of the public schools of Manhattan, and has been a teacher or a student in higher educational institutions continuously for the past twenty years.
He was born on a farm in Smith County, Kansas, April 28, 1874, a son of John and Rachel Ann (Akers) Gift. His parents came to Kansas from Iowa in 1873, settling on a farm. His father was a native of Pennsylvania of German lineage, while his mother was born in Ohio of Scotch and English ancestry. Their respective parents were early settlers in Jefferson County, Iowa, and John and Rachel were married in that state.
The only son in a family of eight children Elmer B. Gift spent the years of childhood and youth on a farm. He was educated in the rural schools, and in 1895 graduated from the high school of Mankato, Kansas. His enviable place in educational circles and his thorough scholarship is the result of many years of alternate teaching and study. What he earned in one season of teaching was extended in a following course of study, and since leaving high school he has paid his own way.
After graduating from high school in 1895 he spent two years in a country school. Entering the Kansas State Normal at Emporia, he completed the full course in science and graduated in 1900. The fall of that year found him as superintendent of the city schools of Conway Springs. In 1902 he completed the teachers’ course at Emporia, and for four years was a teacher at Valley Falls, Kansas.
In the autumn of 1905 Mr. Gift entered the University of Kansas as a student, and in the following year was made instructor in the department of education. In 1907 he graduated A. B. and in 1908 received the degree Master of Arts from the University.
Mr. Gift spent five years as superintendent of the city schools of Alma, and then for one year was Normal Training High School inspector under the state superintendent of public instruction. From the superintendency of the schools of Hiawatha, where he remained two years, he was called to his present post as superintendent of the Manhattan schools in the fall of 1915. Besides the work in the various educational institutions already referred to, Mr. Gift has taken post-graduate work in the University of Chicago, and has also benefited by experience as a traveler. He spent several months abroad in the British Isles and in Continental Europe. He is a member of the Kansas State Teachers Association, of the National Educational Association and the Kansas Schoolmasters Club. Many of his friends know him as a writer, and he has contributed articles both on educational and other subjects to magazines and the current press. He is a Knight Templar Mason and an active worker in the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1908 Mr. Gift married Miss Mary A. Wentworth. She was born in Kansas, a graduate of Lindsborg College, and has also taught school. They are the parents of two sons, Wentworth and Edgar.