Formerly the Conference Group for Central European History, since 1958 the society has furthered scholarly discussion and activities in the fields of German, Habsburg and Central European history. In addition to supporting Central European History, a recognized journal of excellence, the Society sponsors panels at the American Historical Association annual meeting and awards two prestigious scholarly prizes named after the pioneering social historian Hans Rosenberg.

As a non-profit organization, CEHS is organized exclusively for educational, charitable and scientific purposes. It furthers the expression of a common professional interest in Central European history, encourages scholarship across a broad variety of topics and works to further scholarly collaboration with researchers and institutions from all over the world. CEHS is an affiliated society with the American Historical Association.