Ruth Henshaw Miles Bascom was a prolific portrait artist in early federal Massachusetts. Born in Leicester, Massachusetts in 1772, Ruth was the oldest daughter born to American patriot and Minutemen organizer William Henshaw (1735-1820) and his wife, Phebe Swan Henshaw (1753-1808). She was raised in Worcester, Massachusetts where she married Dartmouth College professor, Asa Miles, in 1804 who died shortly thereafter in 1806. Following the untimely death of her first husband, Ruth married Reverend Ezekiel Bascom, a prominent clergyman in Massachusetts who, along with his wife, traveled extensively through England and the United States.
Ruth Bascom's career is documented not only by her portraiture but also by the artist's personal journals, which she meticulously maintained from 1789 to 1846. These exceptional records, housed today at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, provide extensive insight into the subjects of more than two hundred portraits completed by the artist.