The Society was formed on a motion of Alderman E. Hearne, after the Mayor, R.B. Goldsby called a public meeting. Along with a few enthusiasts the Society was formed on Tuesday 6th May, 1947, under affiliation with the Royal Australian Historical Society. It was to be called the Bathurst District Historical Society. The first executive was the Mayor, Alderman Goldsby, President; Secretary, Mr. R.T. Hole, and the Committee Rev. A. Dougan, Dr. R.V. Mulvey, H. Sambrook, N. Rutherford and Lionel Hawkins.
In 2012 the Society has been operating for over 65 years. In that time its collections have primarily targeted the Bathurst region from its initial exploration.
The society has many different interests. It enjoys sharing its wealth of information and for local people and visitors to view its memorabilia collection, which is on display in the Society's Museum in the East Wing of Bathurst Court House in Russell Street. It is primarily from the early Bathurst district. The Society also has items from all states of Australia as well as overseas.
In 1960 a group of members, under the editorship of Mr. Bernard Greaves researched and later produced "The History of Bathurst", which was published by Angus and Robertson in 1961. This book was re-issued in 1964, with the addition of an index. (Limited numbers of this edition are still available.)
The society originally opened a folk museum in Webb's building in George Street for a time and early in 1964 No. 1 George Street became available. It was at first leased, then bought, with the help of Bathurst City Council. The folk museum was then transferred to No. 1 George Street.
In 1965, in conjunction with Bathurst Sesqui-centenary, the older single-storey building at the rear of the site was put in order and restored. Known as Old Government Cottage it was then furnished suitably. The Society received a £1,500 donation from the £5,000 Sesqui-Centenary celebrations grant to the city of Bathurst from the N.S.W. Government.
On Wednesday, 24th March, 1965, His Excellency, the Governor of New South Wales, Lieut.-General Sir Eric Woodward, K.C.M.G., K.C.V.O., C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O. visited Bathurst for the official opening of No. 1, George Street shortly after 3pm. Here the Bathurst District Historical Society was developing an elaborate historical museum.
At this time Mrs. Joan Rutherford, the Society's archivist, stated that the Bathurst District Historical Society eventually hoped to build a storage building for larger objects at some other location. This aim to date has not been achieved but a small storage building has been.
In December 1981 the Museum was relocated to its current location and for a time was combined with the Bathurst Tourist Information. The new dual function location was staffed by Council employees during the week and Society Volunteers each weekends.
Old Government Cottage is no longer part of No 1, George Street and has its new address as 16 Stanley Street, Bathurst.
The main rooms of the Society's current location in the East Wing of the Bathurst Courthouse in Russell Street includes an information and sales centre, archive rooms, reading room and a museum. Books by local historians and postcards are for sale. It is operated by a team of Society Volunteers.
The Society holds musters with a variety of guest speakers on the third Thursday of each month except for December and January. These talks are free and open to the public. Regular trips and outings are conducted by the Society each year.