Three generations of Segaloff’s family have been artist storytellers, and this legacy was passed on to her. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, she joined VISTA, the domestic Peace Corps. She was stationed on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation in Idaho, where she came to appreciate native traditions and art. After completing her VISTA service, Ruth attended Rutgers University, where, in 1969, she earned a Masters Degree in Social Work and moved to Boston.
Segaloff grew up in New Orleans during the nineteen fifties, at the violent beginnings of the civil rights movement and at the height of Joseph McCarthy’s Communist witch hunts. While she was attending college, John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy all were assassinated. The Vietnam War, begun under JFK, gave rise to the anti-war movement, and the brutal response of President Lyndon Johnson’s Administration. These traumatic events greatly influenced her, and peace and social justice have been common themes of her artwork.