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Former Pitt Nursing faculty member, founder of Health and Psychosocial Instruments database, dies

A former associate professor of nursing and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, who also played an instrumental role in creating an internationally recognized records database, has died.

Dr. Evelyn Perloff died on May 26. She was 101.

“Dr. Perloff was a faculty member at the school of nursing when I joined the faculty in the late 1980’s,” said Jacqueline Dunbar-Jacob, PhD, RN, FAAN, Dean and Distinguished Service Professor of Nursing. “Her work was stellar and clearly ahead of its time.  She contributed to so many scholars.”

Her family, Richard M. Perloff, Linda Perloff, July Perloff and Fred Bryant, released the following statement on Dr. Perloff’s passing:

“Dr. Evelyn Perloff -- who brought a fervent belief in the importance of scientific measurement to her teaching as a School of Nursing faculty member in the 1970s through 1990s, and whose dedication to measurement precision led to her innovative founding of an international database on psychosocial instruments in 1985 -- died on May 26. She was 101.

“Dr. Perloff approached her research methods and statistics classes in Pitt’s School of Nursing with a passion for measurement precision, accentuated by a dedication to helping her students understand the basics of empirical methods. She worked endlessly with Master’s students, guiding them through theses that brought forth a gratitude and appreciation for nursing research, which was on the precipice of disciplinary expansion in the 1970s and 1980s. And she applied an innovative spirit to the gaining of a major grant as a Pitt professor of nursing, a financial launching pad for the formation of the Health and Psychosocial Instruments database, an internationally recognized resource that has more than 225,000 records about behavioral, psychosocial, and medical measurement tools supplied to hundreds of libraries across the world.

“She was also a trailblazing female academic during a time when American women faced enormous gender prejudice. Undeterred by conventional norms, Dr. Perloff obtained a Ph.D. in Psychology from Ohio State University in 1951, was on the psychology faculty at Purdue University during the 1960s and was an associate professor of nursing and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh from the 1970s to early 1990s.

“And yet she had a playful, child-like enthusiasm for research, statistics and numbers, loving what she did, teaching it with effervescence, and giving her students a life-long appreciation for the importance of measurement in nursing research.”