Engs, Ruth Clifford

Alternative names
Birth 1939-09-15

Biographical notes:

Ruth Clifford Engs was born Ruth Clifford on September 15, 1939 in Ridgway, Pennsylvania to Elinor and Theodore Alexander Clifford and was later raised in Bethel, Vermont. In 1957, she graduated from Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts and then enrolled at the University of Vermont in Burlington, where, in 1961, she earned a B.A. in Liberal Arts with a major in chemistry and minors in English literature and biology.

After working as a laboratory assistant to virologist Elmer Pfefferkorn at Harvard Medical School from 1961 to 1963, Engs moved briefly to Australia where she worked as a computer programmer, before moving on to San Francisco, California in July of 1964. In 1968, she earned her degree in nursing from Merritt College in Oakland Hills, California and in 1970, she received M.S.’s in both Counseling Psychology and Health Education from the University of Oregon. After earning these degrees, Ruth Engs moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia where she served as an assistant professor at Dalhousie University, teaching both health education and nursing courses for a year.

In 1973, she earned her Ed.D. in Community Health Education from the University of Tennessee, completing a dissertation entitled The personality traits and health knowledge of crisis intervention volunteers in the state of Tennessee. Degree in hand, she joined the Indiana University faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Safety Education in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. In 1979, she was promoted to the rank of associate professor in the Department of Applied Health Sciences, and in 1990, she received a promotion to full professor in this department.

Ruth Engs’ initial research focused on exploring factors for the determinants of university student drinking behavior. During the 1970s and 1980s, she conducted research and produced significant scholarship related to this area of concentration, and frequently collaborated with David Hanson at the State University of New York, Potsdam. She also published several textbooks during this period, including Responsible Drug and Alcohol Use (1979), Alcohol and Other Drugs: Self Responsibility (1987), and Teaching Health Education in the Elementary School, which she co-authored with Molly Wantz.

She led a committee that developed and produced an alcohol education film entitled Booz and Yous (1975), and later, Drinking and Thinking (1985). Engs also developed the influential Student Alcohol Questionnaire which is still used today to measure college students’ drinking behaviors and knowledge of alcohol. From 1976 to 1988, she served as the director of the Annual Drug and Alcohol Workshop at Indiana University.

Dr. Engs’ later scholarship shifted focus, as she took an interest in studying the role of alcohol in society in cross-cultural and historical contexts. As a result of her research into the history of health reform in America, Engs published Clean Living Movement: American Cycles of Health Reform in 2000 and later, The Progressive Era Health Reform Movement: A Historical Dictionary in 2003. Engs' interest in the study of views of health in a historical context also led to her publication of The Eugenics Movement: An Encyclopedia in 2005. In 2008, her book Unseen Upton Sinclair explored the previously unpublished writings of author and reformer Upton Sinclair.

In addition to her published scholarship, Engs also taught Introduction to Health Counseling, Research Methods, Theories of Addictive Behaviors, Personal Health, and Epidemiology and Human Diseases. Aside from her work at Indiana University, from 1989 to 1995 Engs served as an adjunct faculty member at the Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, developing an undergraduate alcohol and treatment curriculum. From 1999 to 2000, she also served as an adjunct faculty member for Walden University, for which she developed a distance learning curriculum for an introductory public health course. Throughout most of the 1980s, Dr. Engs operated a private stress reduction and self-hypnosis practice.

In 2003, Ruth Engs retired with the title of Professor Emeritus of Applied Health Science.

From the guide to the Ruth Clifford Engs papers, 1947-2010, bulk 1970-2002, (Indiana University Office of University Archives and Records Management http://www.libraries.iub.edu/archives)


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