The Society for the Preservation of Spirituals evolved in the early 1920's as way for the children of planters, who had been raised by Gullah servants, to preserve a heritage that they saw as dying out. As a way of preserving this art, and thinking that the African-American community lacked the means, these upper-class Charlestonians decided to learn and perform spirituals themselves. The society's members went into the African-American community and learned different Gullah spirituals. Writing the songs and arranging them into different vocal parts allowed them to easily learn the songs. Although these songs sounded very similar to the authentic African-American spirituals, they lacked spontaneity and improvisation. There is much debate within Charleston circles as to the "authenticity" of the society and the paternalism inherent in their mission. The society is still in existence today.

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"The Society for the Preservation of Spirituals is an organization unique in the roster of musical associations. Composed of people who are not actually musicians, it has as its main purpose the preserving of a form of music indigenous to the South Carolina coast, the songs of the plantation Negroes of ante-bellum times. A book, The Carolina Low Country, and several recordings are the tangible fruits of its labors. An important subsidiary interest of the Society is the providing of financial assistance each month to rural Sea Island indigents.

The society evolved in the early 1920's, inspired by the nostalgic sentiments of a group of friends transplanted from their various family plantation to the urban atmosphere of the city of Charleston. Missing acutely the familiar country sights and sounds, they came together informally to sing the haunting songs that were inherent part of their childhood.

Although the Society is proudly amateur in every sense of the word, an invitation to sing for a church benefit some years ago launched it on a career that has culminated in a series of annual local concerts plus a variety of singing engagements up and down the eastern seaboard. For their performances the members don the costume of the 1860's, the ladies in hoopskirts and flounces, the gentlemen in formal attire with beruffled shirts.

From time to time new members have been added many from the second generation and the third. The spirit of pleasant friendship and of joyous reverence for the memory of the old South, so evident in the founders, persists today as an endearing characteristic of the group." -Society for the Preservation of Spiritual's Pamphlet

Although these members identify with the culture and music of slaves and African-Americans, the members lament a time when this culture was oppressed and in bondage. Thus, the Society for the Preservation of Spirituals truly preserved their own heritage.