Biography of Joseph M. Gwinn
San Francisco, CA Biographies





JOSEPH MARR GWINN
One of the most distinguished educators of the Pacific coast is Joseph Marr Gwinn, who is the superintendent of schools in San Francisco, and who has been successfully engaged in educational work for a period exceeding forty years. He was born in Warrensburg, Missouri, April 23, 1870, and is a son of the late John Marr and Minerva Jane (Jaynes) Gwinn. On the paternal side of his family he is of Welsh descent, and one the maternal of English. John Marr Gwinn was born in Howard county, Missouri, May 9, 1817, and his wife was born in Johnson City, Tennessee, February 14, 1827 both of the families removed to Missouri in an early day from Kentucky and Tennessee, accompanying the Boones.

Joseph Marr Gwinn began his studies in a rural school near Warrensburg, and afterward entered the State Normal School, also in Warrensburg, from which institution he graduated four years later, in 1893. His first experience in teaching, however, was obtained in the term of 1890-91 in a country school near his native village. From 1893 to 1895, he was principal of the school in Ashland, Missouri; from 1895 to 1897, high school principal in Nevada, Missouri; and from 1897 to 1900 he was principal of the high school in Joplin, Missouri. He renewed his studies at this point, at the University of Missouri, which conferred upon him the Bachelor of Arts degree in the year 1902. For one year thereafter he was superintendent of schools in Joplin, then from 1903 and 1906 he was professor of education at the State Normal School in Warrensburg. In 1907, Dr. Gwinn obtained his Master of Arts degree from Columbia University, and in the same year became professor of education, also director of education, at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Until 1910, he remained in this capacity, with fine credit to himself, and on November 11th of that year he became superintendent of schools in the city of New Orleans. The judgment of the board of education in the southern metropolis was fully justified by the achievements of Dr. Gwinn in this important position, as he brought rapid and permanent development to the school system under his skillful management. His reputation as an educationist spread to other parts of the country, and other cities coveted his services. San Francisco offered him the superintendency of schools in the year 1923, and he accepted the honor, believing rightly that this field would provide him with the opportunities he desired. He assumed office on July 1, 1923, and has been the incumbent since. He has manifested a high devotion to the duties assigned to him and he has brought about consistent development in the school system of the city. The office of superintendent of the San Francisco schools is of sufficient importance to challenge the heart and mind of any man, but the mature wisdom and deep background of experience possessed by Dr. Gwinn have proved adequate for the task. Likewise, he understands the impulses of vigorous and ambitious youth, and he is fully prepared to deal with them as he finds them in others. He has kept abreast of the times in educational methods and, having always been a student and a man of constructive thinking, he has not hesitated to apply new principles which he believed might benefit the local schools. He has been accorded signal recognition by the educators of the country, and in 1926 the University of Missouri conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws. He has been president of the California State Teachers' Association since 1929. He was president of the National Society for the Study of Education in 1915; president of the National Council of Education from 1922 to 1925 inclusive; president of the department of superintendence of the National Education Association in 1928; and is a member of the board of trustees of the National Education Association. During the period of the United States participation in the World war, Dr. Gwinn loyally contributed his services to the cause. He was a member of the Army Educational Corps, and was a director of the College of Education, American Expeditionary Forces University, in Beaune, France, in 1919. He is a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In Warrensburg, Missouri, February 2, 1895, Dr. Gwinn was united in marriage with Miss Elise Williams, a native of Missouri, of English-Scotch descent, and a daughter of Ellis and Elizabeth (Stewart) Williams, both of the parents having been natives of the state of Kentucky. Dr. and Mrs. Gwinn are the parents of two children, namely: Gladys, who is the wife of R. A. Brown of Galt, California, and the mother of Betty and Robert; and Joseph, of Buffalo, New York, who married Mildred Curran, of New Orleans, Louisiana, and is the father of Joseph and Mary. Mrs. Gwinn, who first met her husband when they were both students at the State Teachers College in Warrensburg, Missouri, has walked steadfastly by his side through more than thirty five years of happy married life, and has been his true companion and helpmate in all the affairs of his career.

Dr. Gwinn is a thirty second degree Mason, belonging to Mount Davidson Lodge, No. 481, F. & A. M.; California Commandery, No. 1, K. T.; San Francisco Consistory; and Islam Temple of the Mystic Shrine. He belongs to the Rotary Club of San Francisco and the Commonwealth Club. He worships in the Christian Church. He has been attentive to his duties as a citizen as well, and has invariably been enthusiastic in his cooperation with his fellows in matters of real civic import. He has a wide variety of interests, but his favorite form of recreation is horseshoe pitching, which diversion he follows as a member of the Golden Gate Horseshoe Club.

From:
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931


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