The Shelter Island Historical Society was founded in 1924 by a group of citizens determined to preserve and research a collection of manuscripts held in the Town's public library. In 1969, the Society was granted a New York State Educational Department Board of Regents Absolute Charter. Havens House and Manhanset Chapel Museum were listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places in 1986 and 1997, respectively.
The mission of the Society is to collect, record, and preserve local history, and to teach the community and its many visitors about life on Shelter Island. Artifacts and archival material are used to interpret the social, economic, and cultural conditions of the island's past. To this end the Society maintains and operates an historic house, barn, and museum, and conducts such activities and meetings as may serve to maintain, stimulate and promote its purpose.