Update on the Historical Pepper Books Restoration Project

May 20, 2016

Through the support of Department funds and the help of a number of generous donors, two of the most indispensable pathology artifacts from the 19th century found in the Perelman School of Medicine library have now been restored by conservationists. The books were part of a trove of medical records from the mid to late 19th century that was discovered during recent renovations of the School of Medicine buildings. The Clinical Cases of Dr William Pepper Jr. and one of the annual Post Mortem Records for autopsies performed at the University of Pennsylvania from the years 1875 to 1896 were treated by the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts. The books are particularly important to the Department as they represent records from the early years leading to the establishment of the William Pepper Laboratory of Clinical Medicine in 1895 by Dr. Pepper as the first US clinical laboratory associated with an academic medical institution.

The Department is now appealing to individual, philanthropic, and charitable funds in order to restore and preserve the remaining works. We envision that, with proper archival restoration and their concomitant digitalization, these books can be made available for historical research and other uses. Moreover, the clinical cases described in them can serve as rewarding instructional materials and we are planning to have pathology residents present cases as they were written by William Pepper and colleagues. These special Grand Rounds events and the public display of these records will serve as a public acknowledgment of our gratitude to the sponsors of the books’ reconstruction.


Images: state before conservation; details of the restoration process

We have set up a web page for donations:

Leading the restoration efforts are Drs. Kathy Montone and Irving Nachamkin. To find out more about how you can contribute, please email them directly at or