In the fall of 1993 the Kolb-Proust Archive for Research was organized at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library. Professor Robert Wedgeworth, then University Librarian, established the Archive in order to make available to scholars world-wide, through the Internet, the research notes and documentation of Philip Kolb , professor of French at the University of Illinois and editor of the correspondence of Marcel Proust. Today the first series of documents from the collection are accessible on the World-Wide Web through a searchable SGML-encoded Virtual Archive.
After coming to the University as a professor of French in 1945, Philip Kolb worked indefatigably on the editing of Proust’s correspondence until just before his death in 1992. That same year saw the completion of his 21-volume set of the correspondence issued by the publisher Plon, in Paris. Kolb left behind a treasure-trove of research notes concerning Proust’s letters which offer researchers information relating not only to Proust scholarship, but also to turn-of-the-century French intellectual life in general. Henri Bergson, the French philosopher, and Gabriel Fauré, the composer, are among the many persons of various professions represented in Kolb’s notes. Photocopies of a large number of Proust’s letters are also housed in the Archive. These complement one of the largest existing collections of original Proust letters, stored in the Rare Book and Special Collections Library .