Our roots lie in the year 1989, when the Iron Curtain, which had divided Europe for over forty years, began to fall. In this climate of rapid political change, a group of Hungarian students took the initiative and started contacting their colleagues in different countries. They wanted to found an association that would allow students of history to come into contact, cooperate, and exchange ideas, something that had not been possible before.
On the 9th of May 1990, ISHA was founded in Budapest with a large student conferece. Such events continue to be held every year, together with different kinds of smaller seminars, regional activities and projects. 1999 saw the first issue of ISHA's academic journal, Carnival.
In later years, ISHA's International Secretariat was moved twice: first from the Hungarian capital to Leuven, Belgium, and later to Zurich, Switzerland, where it is still based today. After more than 20 years of existence, ISHA has members all over Europe.
As an organization, ISHA consists of the following parts:
- its member sections and observers
- the General Assembly (GA)
- the International Board (IB)
- the Council and other officials
ISHA is represented at universities by its member groups, called sections. A section can be formed by, for example, the local history student club, or by any informal group of students who want to become active in ISHA. In case there are multiple universities in one city, or two or more universities in close proximity, founding a joint section is usually the best way.
In order to become a member section, the group needs to register with ISHA's International Board and pay a fee of 50 euros per year (per section, not per individual member). In case one cannot pay the fee, or the group is not sure yet whether they can or want to join, it is also possible to register with the IB as an observing section first before becoming a member.
The member sections from all over Europe organize meetings on their own initiative. They can host a seminar, a large Annual Conference, or any other Europe-wide event. Many sections also organize smaller events on the local (their university/country) or regional (with neighbouring countries) levels. The ISHA IB coordinates the activities of the sections and also opens up possibilities to participate in varying projects with ISHA's international partner organizations.
The International Board is responsible for coordinating the organization, representing it towards other institutions, and for preparing the General Assemblies, in which ISHA's policy is decided upon in debates and through voting by the member sections. Every member section has one vote, all counting equally.
The many tasks of the IB are carried out with assistance by the Council of ISHA and a group of other Officials (the Treasury Ćommittee, Editor-in-Chief of Carnival, Webmasters, etc.). The candidates for these positions come from the member sections and are elected during the Annual Conference's General Assembly.