The Sanitary Institute was founded in 1876 by a group of prominent sanitary reformers who wanted to provide a unified perspective on health following the 1875 Public Health Act. It amalgamated with the Parkes Museum of Hygiene in 1883, opened a School of Hygiene and ran examinations for a range of public health professions, including sanitary inspectors, health visitors and school nurses. In 1955, the name was changed to the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health, with the name the Royal Society of Health, also being used.
The Royal Institute of Public Health was originally founded in 1886 and offered courses for the Diploma in Public Health, had laboratories for bacteriology, pathology and chemistry, organised lectures and demonstrations and published the Journal of State Medicine. The same founders simultaneously established the College of State Medicine which merged in 1892 with the laboratory founded by the British Institute for Preventive Medicine and eventually became the Lister Institute.
The Institute of Hygiene was founded in 1903, primarily to establish an exhibition, but it also ran courses and examinations for non-medical workers and offered certificates in a variety of subjects including food and beverages, clothing, and dental and toilet accessories. In 1937 it merged with the Royal Institute of Public Health to form the Royal Institute of Public Health and Hygiene.
In October 2008 the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health merged with the Royal Institute of Public Health and Hygiene to form the Royal Society for Public Health.
Both the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health and the Royal Institute of Public Health and Hygiene were in decline for much of the late 20th century. However, in recent years this trend has been reversed, as pro-active and responsive policy work has led to the Royal Society for Public Health establishing themselves as a powerful player in the field, and working with both Government and industry.