The chief executive officer is Jesús F. de la Teja and the chief historian is Walter L. Buenger. The association president (2018-2019) is Sarita Hixon; the preceding president is (2017-2018) Paula Mitchell Marks. Other past presidents include Steve Cook (2016-2017), Lynn Denton (2015-2016), John L. Nau III (2014-2015), Gregg Cantrell (2013-2014), Watson Arnold (2012-2013), Merline Pitre (2011-2012), Dianne Garrett Powell (2010-2011) and Walter L. Buenger (2009-2010). Other past presidents are the late Robert A. Calvert (1989-1990) of Texas A&M, Alwyn Barr (1992-1993) of Texas Tech University, and Jerry D. Thompson (2001-2002) of Texas A&M International University in Laredo.
The first ideas to create TSHA took place at a meeting of ten people at the University of Texas at Austin campus, who wanted to create an organization which would "promote the discovery, collection, preservation, and publication of historical material relating to Texas." This led to another meeting in Austin on March 2, 1897, where 250 individuals were invited to help create the organization. Of the 250, "between twenty and thirty" were present at the meeting, with others who could not attend responding with approval. This first formal meeting of TSHA included men and several women who became charter members. One of the founders was U.S. Texas Senator John Henninger Reagan.
At this first meeting, George P. Garrison, forwarded the idea that archival material about Texas needed to be preserved. Officers were chosen during the meeting and a controversy over what John Salmon Ford called "lady members," caused Ford to storm out of the meeting. Ford wanted the original constitution for TSHA to amend "members" with "lady members" when the participants were women. Garrison did not want to change the constitution, and eventually Bride Neill Taylor spoke up and agreed that there was no need to change anything. Ford could not be placated and after yelling at Taylor, saying, "Madam, your brass may get you into the association, but you will never have the right to get in under that section as it stands," his amendment to create "lady members" was unanimously defeated by the others at the meeting. Ford's leaving the meeting was seen as a negative effect to the other charter members who were counting on his political influence to support the group at the political level.
TSHA began to hold annual meetings in Austin. The first annual meeting was held on June 17, 1897. Topics included "The Expulsion of the Cherokees From East Texas, "The Last Survivor of the Goliad Massacre," "The Veramendt House," "Thomson's Clandestine Passage Around Nacogdoches," and "Defunct Counties of Texas." There was also a group business meeting.
By 1928, TSHA had a membership around 500 individuals.
The organization produces three educational publications, in addition to the New Handbook of Texas:
The organization publishes the New Handbook of Texas which is a six-volume multidisciplinary encyclopedia of Texas history, culture, and geography.
In addition, the Handbook of Texas Online is provided by TSHA for internet historical research of Texas.