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. 
- Guy M. Bryan, charter member. 
- Anna Pennybacker, charter member. 
- Ben H. Procter, president from 1979 to 1980
- Oran M. Roberts, charter member and first president. 
- Bride Neill Taylor, charter member. 
- Dudley G. Wooten, charter member. 
- Paul H. Carlson (1992), Texas Tech professor emeritus and a specialist in Texas and the American West
- A.C. Greene, Jr., book critic, historian, poet, journalist, and essayist
The organization produces three educational publications, in addition to the New Handbook of Texas:
- The Southwestern Historical Quarterly (originally called the Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association) is the oldest continuously published scholarly journal in Texas. This journal usually features 16 articles per year, covering topics in a range of appeal.
- Riding Line is published by the agency as a quarterly newsletter. It features news and current information on statewide historical activities.
- The Texas Almanac is a biennially published reference work providing information for the general public on the history of the state and its people, government and politics, economics, natural resources, holidays, culture, education, recreation, the arts, and other topics. TSHA acquired the Texas Almanac as a gift from the A. H. Belo Corporation on May 5, 2008.
- Educational Department: Founded in 1939, looks to promote the teaching of Texas history in the states’ schools.
- Junior Historians of Texas: An extracurricular program for students in grades four through twelve.
- Texas History Day: Provides an opportunity for students to develop their knowledge of history in an annual state-level history fair for students in grades six through twelve.
- History Awareness Workshops: Helps educators develop teaching strategies for informative content and practical classroom applications.
- Heritage Travel Program: a one-week traveling seminar dealing with a specific subject in Texas history held at summer.
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.
- East Texas Historical Association, based in Nacogdoches
- West Texas Historical Association, based in Lubbock
- McDonald, Archie P. (15 June 2010). "Texas State Historical Association". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
- Taylor 1929, p. 1.
- Grider and Rodenberger 1997, p. 56-57.
- Taylor 1929, p. 2.
- Taylor 1929, p. 4.
- Taylor 1929, p. 5.
- Taylor 1929, p. 6.
- "State Historical Association". Galveston Daily News. 13 June 1897. Retrieved 27 April 2016 – via Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)).
- "Baker Lectures on Texas Revolution". Austin Daily Texan. 1 April 1928. Retrieved 26 April 2016 – via Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)).
- "State Historical Ass'n Opens Today". Taylor Daily Press. 11 April 1928. Retrieved 26 April 2016 – via Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)).
- Grider, Sylvia Ann; Rodenberger, Lou Halsell, eds. (1997). Texas Women Writers: A Tradition of Their Own. Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 9780890967652.
- Taylor, Bride Neill (July 1929). "The Beginnings of the State Historical Association". The Southwestern Historical Quarterly. 33 (1). JSTOR 30237205.
- "TSHA Online - Texas State Historical Association". Retrieved 2008-04-21.
- Southwestern Historical Quarterly online
- Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association. Fulltext via HathiTrust, various dates