Physical Review was first published in July 1893, organized by Cornell University professor Edward Nichols and helped by the new President of Cornell, J. Gould Schurman. The journal was managed and edited at Cornell in upstate New York from 1893 to 1913 by Nichols, Ernest Merritt, and Frederick Bedell. The 33 volumes published during this time constitute Physical Review Series I.
The American Physical Society, which was formed in 1899, took over its publication in 1913, and started Physical Review Series II. The journal remained at Cornell under editor G.S. Fulcher from 1913 to 1926, before relocating to the location of Editor John Torrence Tate at the University of Minnesota. In 1929, the APS started publishing the Reviews of Modern Physics, a venue for longer review articles.
After Tate's death in 1950, the journals were managed on an interim basis still in Minnesota by E.L. Hill and John Buchta until Samuel Goudsmit and Simon Pasternack were appointed and the editorial office moved to Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) on the east end of Long Island, NY. In July 1958, the sister journal Physical Review Letters was introduced to publish short articles of particularly broad interest, initially edited by George L. Trigg, who remained as Editor until 1988.
In 1970, Physical Review split into sub-journals Physical Review A, B, C, and D. A fifth member of the family, Physical Review E, was introduced in 1993 to a large part to accommodate the huge amount of new research in nonlinear dynamics. Combined, these constitute Physical Review Series III.
The editorial office moved in 1980 to its present location on 1 Research Road, Ridge, NY, just across the street from BNL. Sam Goudsmit retired in 1974 and Sy Pasternack in the mid-70's. B. Chalmers-Frazer was Managing Editor from 1974 until 1980, helped by Robert K. Adair and James Krumhansl. Past Editors-in-Chief include David Lazarus (1980—1990), from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Benjamin Bederson (1990—1996), from New York University, and Martin Blume (1996—2007), from BNL. The current Editor In Chief is Gene Sprouse from SUNY, Stony Brook.
In 1998, the first issue of Physical Review Special Topics — Accelerators and Beams was published, and in 2005, Physical Review Special Topics — Physics Education Research was launched) . Physical Review also started an online magazine, Physical Review Focus, in 1998 to explain, and provide historical context for, selected articles from Physical Review and Physical Review Letters. The Special Topics journals are open access; Physics Education Research requires page charges from the authors, but Physical Review Special Topics — Accelerators and Beams does not. Though not open access, Physical Review Letters also requires a author page charge. The other journals require such a charge only if they are not prepared in one of the preferred formats. 
All of the journals of the APS are recognized internationally as among the best and well known in physics. Many of the most famous physics papers published in the 20th century have appeared in the pages of the Physical Review family of journals.
|Physical Review Series I||Phys. Rev.||1893—1912||All of Physics||All volumes|
|Physical Review Series II||Phys. Rev.||1913—1969||All of Physics||All volumes|
|Physical Review Letters||Phys. Rev. Lett.||1958—present||Important fundamental research in all fields of physics||1958—2002|
|Physical Review A||Phys. Rev. A||1970—present||Atomic, molecular, and optical physics||1970—2002|
|Physical Review B||Phys. Rev. B||1970—present||Condensed matter and materials physics||1970—2002|
|Physical Review C||Phys. Rev. C||1970—present||Nuclear physics||1970—2002|
|Physical Review D||Phys. Rev. D||1970—present||Particles, fields, gravitation, and cosmology||1970—2002|
|Physical Review E||Phys. Rev. E||1993—present||Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics||1970—2002|
|Physical Review Focus||Phys. Rev. Focus||1998—present||Selections from the Physical Review Journals||All volumes|
|Physical Review Special Topics — Accelerators and Beams||Phys. Rev. ST AB||1998—present||Particle accelerators and beams||All volumes|
|Physical Review Special Topics — Physics Education Research||Phys. Rev. ST PER||2005—present||Physics education||All volumes|