Francis Peyre Porcher was born in Charleston, South Carolina on December 14, 1824 to William and Isabella Sarah Peyre Porcher. Through his mother's side, he was a descendant of the botanist, Thomas Walter, author of Flora Caroliniana.
Porcher graduated from the South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina) in 1844 and from the Medical College of South Carolina in 1847. After graduation Porcher spent two years traveling in Europe. Upon his return to Charleston, he entered practice and in 1852 with Dr. E. Belin Flagg opened the Charleston Preparatory Medical School of the Medical College and lectured on materia medica and therapeutics. During his long affiliation with the Medical College of the South Carolina, Porcher served as professor of clinical medicine and chair of materia medica, which position he held from 1874 to 1891.
During the Civil War, Porcher served as a surgeon in the Confederate Army in Virginia and was detailed by C.S.A Surgeon General Samuel Preston Moore to write Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests, a handbook to southeastern flora and fauna which could be used as substitutes for blockaded pharmaceuticals.
Porcher died on November 19, 1895 in Charleston.
The Frances Peyre Porcher Papers include Porcher's lecture, class, and research notes on materia medica, botany, and pharmacy compiled over his career in support of his medical teaching responsibilities and the publication of his book, Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests. Porcher's notes, arranged alphabetically, includes notes for classroom instruction in the areas of materia medica and therapeutics. Files include handwritten notes, clippings, sketches, prescriptions, sources, and notes for publications.
Also included are personal letters to and from members of the Leigh, Porcher, and Wickham families from 1846 to 1862. Of particular interest are Dr. Porcher's letters to his first wife, Virginia "Jennie" Leigh Porcher, written from camp in Virginia between 1862 and 1863 while he served with the Confederate Army. In these, Porcher relates news of his advancement through the office of the Surgeon General, of living and working conditions in camp, and of family news and affections.
Dr. Porcher's diary documents his travels in Europe from 1852 to 1854.
Dr. Porcher's travel diary and letters to his wife and mother are accompanied by typed transcripts.
Dr. Porcher's graduate medical thesis, A Medico-Botanical Catalogue of the Plants and Ferns of St. John's Berkeley, is also available in MEDICA as part of the Waring Historical Library Inaugural Theses Collection..