Skip to main content

About this collection

Nancy E. Warner Pathology Slide Collection

The collection consists of nearly 7,500 digitized 35mm Kodachrome slides of pathology specimens including both microscopic histology sections and macroscopic (gross) pathology specimens.  The photographs were taken by Nancy E. Warner, M.D., over her long career beginning in the mid-1950’s and continuing until her retirement in 1991.  The collection covers all human systems with an emphasis on surgical pathology. A few images of mouse and rat tissue also are included. Her avid interest in photography and her expertise as an anatomical pathologist have produced very high quality images. She used the slides for lectures at the University of Southern California and at conferences and as teaching materials for medical residents.  With changes in diagnostic techniques and treatment methods, many of these images are a historical reflection of the time they were photographed and could not be collected in current days. The collection includes images of disease states at the time of diagnosis and before treatment, as well as photographs taken from autopsies that reveal end stages of other diseases. Unfortunately, Dr. Warner’s most recent slides were given to another individual and are not part of this collection.

Dr. Warner donated the slide collection along with funds to digitize the collection in 2016 to the Norris Medical Library of the USC Libraries.

Dr. Warner was a female ground breaker in medicine.  Graduating in 1949, she was an early woman graduate from the University of Chicago’s School of Medicine. She claims that she was admitted during the war years because male applicants were sparse.  She practiced as a pathologist at the University of Chicago, Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles, and the University of Washington, before arriving in 1967 to the University of Southern California where she spent the remainder of her career.  She was appointed as chair of the Department of Pathology in 1972 becoming the first female department chair at the Keck School of Medicine and the first female in the United States to be named chair of a pathology department at a coeducational school of medicine. She feels that her chair appointment by then Keck School Dean Franz K. Bauer, M.D., was heavily influenced by his wife and mother who both had medical degrees.  In turn, Dr. Warner recruited a number of women to faculty positions.  She stepped down from the chair position in 1983 to practice surgical pathology at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. She continued to be active in teaching and serving USC even after her official retirement.  Teaching was one of her great joys in life and garnered her many teaching awards from medical students, as well as from the American Society of Clinical Pathologists’ Distinguished Pathology Educator Award. In 2009 from the USC Emeriti Center, she received the inaugural Paul E. Hadley Faculty Award for Service to USC.

The Nancy E. Warner Papers, 1935 – 1956, are housed at the University of Chicago Library

About the metadata

Dr. Warner organized her slide collection by organ system, body part, and disease providing headings on tabs to mark the different sections.  The order of the images in this digital collection reflect the original slide organization, so images of body areas within organ systems will be grouped together.  However, to find all images on disease states (e.g., melanoma), searching for the disease is required. Dr. Warner included descriptions on each slide, usually disease and body part, but also age, sex, test method, primary site for metastasis, and other relevant information.  The metadata includes:

  1. Title – transcribed from slide, including annotations of case numbers and magnifications. Question marks included in the title were indicated on the slide.  Some slides did not include descriptions, so titles were indicated as [Unidentified Pathology Slide]. Patients and hospitals identified on the slides were not included.
  2. Keywords – full form of abbreviations included in the title.  Body parts or diseases not included in the title, but derived from the organization of the slides.  When these keywords were derived, question marks (?) were added to indicate that these were not provided by Dr. Warner.
  3. Gross/Microscopic – determined by examination of the slide
  4. Magnification – included only if indicated on the slide
  5. MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) – the National Library of Medicine’s Thesaurus of controlled and hierarchical vocabulary for biomedical information was used to provide additional subject access to the collection.  In general for this collection, MeSH terms include organ systems, body parts, and diseases.  Terms for sex, age group, and other information were added when available.  Disease states (e.g., Dysentery, Bacillary) were added when the causative organism (Shigella) was provided. MeSH provided a bridge from the terminology used in earlier years to current times (e.g., salivary gland virus infections are now called cytomegalovirus infections).  Terms were not provided for test methods (e.g., Alcian Blue), but those can be found in the titles and keywords.


The donation was received by Janis Brown, Associate Director, Systems & Information Technology, Norris Medical Library.  Ms. Brown also oversaw the preparation of the collection into the digital library.  Others working on the project include Stephanie Osorio, Hanna Canawati, M.D., and Peter Nichols, M.D., as well as Dr. Warner.

Select the collections to add or remove from your search