The Society was founded in 1985. Its purpose is to publish texts relating to Hertfordshire that would not otherwise be easily accessible. Grants are sometimes received from charitable trusts to help with publication costs of the volumes since the Society has no large endowments and relies on the support and goodwill of those who appreciate the county and its past.
As the Society is a publishing body, it does not hold social functions; however, its Annual General Meeting, held on the second Saturday in June, is usually held in a historic Hertfordshire building that is not usually open to the public. After the business meeting has been concluded, members are taken on a guided tour. Venues in previous years include Rothamsted Manor, Berkhamsted School, Haileybury School and some of the private rooms in Hatfield House.