University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

History of the Kolb Society


Painted By B.J. Czedekowski

The Kolb Foundation originated from a generous bequest by Katherine Paanakker. It was her long-cherished aim to establish a foundation in memory of her father, Colonel Louis J. Kolb, who was a member of the Class of 1887 at the University of Pennsylvania. Katherine's son, Peter Paanakker, insured that his mother's wishes were carried out, and the Louis J. Kolb Foundation was established in California for the support of students at the University of Pennsylvania. Peter Paanakker, along with Dr. Robert H. Dyson, Jr. and Jerome C. Byrne, Esq., constituted the original board of the Kolb Foundation. The first student fellowship was awarded by the Kolb Foundation in 1981. When Peter Paanakker died on October 15, 1999, a large portion of his estate was added to the original bequest from Katherine Kolb Paanakker.

Dr. Robert Dyson proposed the concept of a society of Kolb fellows at the University of Pennsylvania to the Kolb Foundation in November 1984. The founding of the society was formally approved at the meeting of October 22, 1987. That evening the founding dinner was held at the Garden Restaurant in Philadelphia. 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 for unspecified lengths of time, and the junior fellows of the society were both 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 and abroad.

Each year, at the insistence of Peter Paanakker and in memory of the founding dinner of the Kolb Society, the student and faculty fellows, and the officers of the Kolb Foundation meet at the Kolb dinner, hosted by a fine Philadelphia restaurant. As long as they were able, Peter Paanakker and Jerome Byrne attended each Kolb dinner. A tradition evolved where junior fellows would present a synopsis of their research before dinner for their benefactors and the assembled group of fellows.

As the Kolb Society has expanded its numbers, it has increased and formalized its yearly meetings. In 2006 the First Annual Junior Kolb Spring Colloquium took place, showcasing the research of soon-to-be-finished junior fellows. The inaugural fall Kolb Senior Scholars Colloquium, presenting research of graduated students (fellows) and faculty (senior and emeritus fellows), followed that same year. In 2010 informal meetings, in the form of workshops and roundtable discussions, were added to the list of Kolb-sponsored events. As the Kolb Society of Fellows grows it continues to reach out to the Penn community and the expanding academic environment encountered by the Kolb graduates.


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 established a company to promote it, and entered the yeast production business as well. He eventually sold the bakery business and became a director of General Baking Company, and pursued other fields. 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 (where he was formerly president and donated a building), St. Luke's Hospital and Children's Hospital. Colonel Kolb's military title was honorary and due to his appointment as a lieutenant colonel on the staff of Governor Martin G. Brumbaugh. He had a cigar humidor that looked like a book and bore the inscription "The war record of Colonel Louis J. Kolb." Colonel Kolb 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.

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