B. S. from Harvard (1944), M. A. from University of Rochester (1946) and Ph.D. in English from Yale (1951), in which same year he joined the Yale Boswell Editions project as a research assistant. From 1959 until his retirement in 1989 he taught at the Claremont Graduate School, while still retaining his ties with the Yale Boswell project, of which he was also the general editor from 1986 until 1989.
Waingrow was associated with the Boswell Editions at Yale from 1951 almost until his death. He was the main editor of two of the Yale editions, The Correspondence and Other Papers of James Boswell Relating to the Making of the 'Life of Johnson (1969, new edition 2001) and James Boswell's 'Life of Johnson': An Edition of the Original Manuscript in Four Volumes, Vol. 1, 1709-1765.