The Codex Topographicus Pompeianus consists of manuscript volumes written by Tatiana Warsher between 1937 and 1957. Her mission and motivation in writing the Codex is explained in an undated preface in Volume 3 (focusing on Regio I, Insula 3):
"The work that I am now undertaking, the first completed section of which I offer in the following pages, is to be a descriptive album of photographs of all Pompeii thus far excavated, taken systematically, Insula by Insula. The illustrations are to be accompanied by a running description which will state briefly the essential features of each building in the Insula and of almost each particular illustrated. The need for such a complete and thorough work is great. It is superfluous for me to remark that Pompeii offers an inexhaustible source of first hand material for our study of the ancient world. Every archaeologist knows that in the ruins of Pompeii are hundreds of subjects for research, until now hardly touched upon, which when treated will contribute vastly to our knowledge of ancient Roman life. My album - Codex topographicus - will place this tremendous store house of material within easy reach."
In Volume 36 (focusing on Regio IX, Insula 3), Warsher's preface sheds light on her modest views of her research and its value for future scholarship:
"This is only a rough draft of a book that someone else must write, as Lawrence Richardson has now done with the house of Dioscuri. I have always considered my work that of laying foundations upon which others may build. I have repeatedly urged young students to concentrate their efforts on a single house in the hope that by doing so we shall preserve the fast-vanishing evidence of the excavations. No house merits such a study more than the Casa di Marco Lucrezio. Its difficult plan, its rich paintings, its epigraphical problems, its history are all fascinating. The[sic] let someone take what I offer here as a basis for farther study, elaborate and finish it."
Scholar Lawrence Richardson's biography of Warsher explains that her Codex underwent multiple revisions as she created and distributed new copies of each volume for her mentor, Michael Rostovtzeff, as well as for other scholars and libraries. The volumes in this collection represent the most complete set available in a single research library.
Each volume describes a specific region and zone within Pompeii, indicated by the volume's title. Warsher's photography, cartography, and research about each area's geography, architecture, archaeology, and artwork is included alongside pages of her typescript descriptive text, often written in multiple languages (including English, Latin, Italian, German, and French). Tables of contents are transcribed if included in the volume, as well as production dates and any introductory dedications by Warsher.