SHGAPE was formed in 1989 to encourage and facilitate research and teaching on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. It is an affiliated society of the American Historical Association and regularly sponsors sessions at the AHA, OAH, and other major meetings, has an annual luncheon at the OAH, and presents a social hour at the OAH annual meeting.

SHGAPE sponsors several prizes and awards, in order to encourage scholarship in the field and to recognize scholars whose contributions to the study of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, or whose service to SHGAPE, merits special attention.