The 1880s, the decade in which the Society was founded, saw a strong revival of interest in all things Scottish, the identity of the nation, its past and its future. One of the most influential figures in this revival was the Earl of Rosebery; he played a major part in the creation of the office of Secretary for Scotland as a first step in administrative devolution, and the Society was founded as the result of a suggestion he made in a letter published in The Scotsman. Rosebury had a deep interest in Scottish History, and as the first president of the Society he defined its work as ‘the humble and unobtrusive task of letting everyman know' in so far as in us lies, and so far as documentary evidence exists, how our forebears lived and worked and carried on the business of their country in their separate spheres’.
- Scottish History Society: Fifty Years, 1886-1936, The Court Book of the Barony of Carnwath 1523-1542, ed. W C Dickinson, third series, 1937.
- Grant G Simpson, An historical survey of the Scottish History Society, The Court Books of Orkney and Shetland, ed. R S Barclay, fourth series, volume 4, 1967.
- Office Bearers 1886-2001