The Kolb Foundation originated from a generous bequest by Katherine Paanakker, named in memory of her father, Colonel Louis J. Kolb, who was a member of the Class of 1887 at the University of Pennsylvania. The first student fellowship was awarded by the Kolb Foundation in 1981. The Louis J. Kolb Society of Fellows was organized as a mechanism for selecting candidates for Kolb fellowships and for the general purpose of providing academic guidance and a congenial intellectual atmosphere for the Kolb junior fellows, the recipients of the fellowships.
In its early years, the Kolb Foundation provided fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students. Over time the foundation has focused on graduate study and provided fellowships for students toward the end of their graduate career for the specific purpose of aiding junior fellows as they complete the dissertation. The Kolb Society encourages junior fellows to conduct collection-based research and excavation in association with the University of Pennsylvania and the Penn Museum.
Louis J. Kolb
Colonel Louis John Kolb was born in New York City on June 25, 1865. He went to the Rugby Academy prep school in Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a prominent athlete. While he was a student, he was victorious in the 400-yard intercollegiate championship race on the seat of a high wheel bicycle. Afterward he was national amateur champion in the one-and-a-half-mile event. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1887. At that time, he inherited his father’s baking business, which he eventually developed into one of the largest in Philadelphia. To that end, he invented a new type of bakery oven and entered the yeast production business. He eventually sold the bakery business and became a director of the General Baking Company. He would become one of the largest holders of real estate in central Philadelphia. At his death at the age of 76, he was Vice President of the Real Estate Trust Company and the Pennsylvania Sugar Company, Director of Philadelphia Manufactures Fire Insurance Company and several hospitals including University of Pennsylvania Hospital, Hannaman Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital. Colonel Kolb’s military title was honorary due to his appointment as a lieutenant colonel on the staff of Governor Martin G. Brumbaugh. He was a collector of historical artifacts and had one of the most extensive private collections of Lincolniana. He was also a philanthropist, contributing in many ways to the cultural, medical, and academic communities in Philadelphia.