Waugh was born in Philadelphia and trained at home by her father, the prominent artist Samuel B. Waugh. She subsequently studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Academie Julian in Paris. Her paintings are rare, but she was acclaimed for her religious subjects and allegorical works. She exhibited in the “Women’s Building” of the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exhibition and collaborated as illustrator of the children’s books written by her life partner, Amy Ella Blanchard. Waugh’s half-brother was the well-known marine painter Frederick Judd Waugh.