The El Paso County Historical Society was organized on March 18, 1954, as a project of the Civic Improvement Committee of the Women's Department, El Paso Chamber of Commerce, on the suggestion of historian Cleofas Calleros. Louise Schuessler was the organizing chairman, and Paul A. Heisig was elected the first president. The purpose of the society is to encourage and support research into the history, archeology, and natural history of El Paso and the region; the society publishes the results of research and preserves relics and monuments.
It had more than a hundred charter members and 750 members by 1956. It promoted community celebrations of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the coming of the railroads to El Paso in 1881 and the 100th anniversary of the Butterfield Overland Mail in 1857. In 1973 it celebrated the centennial of the city by compiling a volume of articles entitled El Paso: A Centennial Portrait. The society, in its earliest years, presented to the city of El Paso three important historical relics: engine number one of the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad, an original mule car that provided El Paso's first streetcar service, and steam engine number 3420 of the Southern Pacific Railroad.
The society's quarterly, Password, began publication in the spring of 1956, with Eugene O. Porter of Texas Western College (now the University of Texas at El Paso) as its first editor. He was succeeded by Conrey Bryson in 1975, by Nancy Hamilton in 1980, and by Lillian Collingwood in 1983. The society offers an annual award for the best article published in Password. It also sponsors three annual essay prizes to encourage research by junior historians and three more for senior citizens in the annual historical memories contest.
In 1962 the society inaugurated the El Paso Hall of Honor, which annually honors two county residents, one living and one deceased, of "outstanding vision, courage and creative skill." Since its founding, the Hall of Honor has enrolled forty-two men and ten women. They are inducted at a community banquet, and their biographies are published in Password.
The society conducts an annual tour of historic homes in the El Paso area. It is also the operating agency for the El Paso Museum of History, which served as its headquarters until 1986. Since that date the offices have been at 603 West Yandell Boulevard, in a house willed to the society by Jane Burges Perrenot, a charter member.