William Pepper, Jr. (1843 - 1898)

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Death: Died
Managed by: Doug Robinson
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About William Pepper, Jr.


William Pepper, Jr., M.D. (August 21, 1843 - July 28, 1898), an American physician, was a leader in medical education in the nineteenth century, and a longtime Provost of the University of Pennsylvania.

Early life

Pepper was born in Philadelphia to Dr. William Pepper, Sr. and Sarah Platt Pepper. He married Frances Sergent Perry on June 25, 1873. They were the parents of four sons (William, Thomas, Benjamin, and Oliver Pepper). He was educated at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating from the college in 1862 and from the medical school in 1864.


In 1868 Pepper became lecturer on morbid anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and in 1870 lecturer on clinical medicine. From 1876 to 1887, he was professor of clinical medicine at Penn and in 1887 succeeded Dr Alfred Still as professor of theory and practice of medicine.

Pepper founded the Philadelphia Medical Times and was editor of that journal in 1870-71. He was elected provost of the University of Pennsylvania in 1881 and remained in that position until 1894. For his services as medical director of the United States Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia in 1876, he was made Knight Commander of Saint Olaf by King Oscar II of Sweden.

Pepper was the founder of Philadelphia's first free public library, chartered in 1891 through funds provided by the estate of his late uncle, which became the Free Library of Philadelphia, today the city's multi-branch public library system.

Pepper was known academically for his contributions to the theory and practice of medicine and the System of Medicine that he edited in 1885-86 became one of America's standard medical textbooks. He died July 28, 1898, at Pleasanton, California.

A bronze statue of Pepper by Karl Bitter stands on the south side of College Hall at the University of Pennsylvania. A replica of this stands on the landing of the main staircase of the Central Library at 19th and Vine Streets in Center City, Philadelphia.



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William Pepper, Jr., M.D.'s Timeline

Age 55