Southern Nursing Research Society was founded in 1986 when sixty nurses met in Atlanta and debated the possibility of an organization for nursing researchers in the southern region. In 1987, SNRS was declared an independent organization. In 1992 and 1993, several organizational procedures were streamlined and formalized, Society archives were established and strategic planning was initiated.

There are 14 states in the Society region: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. In 1991, the boundaries were expanded to include the Caribbean, Latin America and the Bahamas.