The remaining amount will go the Wells Endowment for Special Collections in Feinberg Library, to support the preservation of rare and archival materials relating to the North Country, the college and New York state.
Wells had a special fondness for Special Collections — in fact, she continued to volunteer there after retirement.
“Phyllis came here once a week, like clockwork, until her health prevented it,” said Debra Kimok, associate librarian in Special Collections.
A member of the Clinton County Historical Association and 1981 recipient of its McMaster’s history prize for the best paper on local history, Wells had been researching local churches, intending to author a book on the subject.
She gave some of her notes to the archives and also donated other historical materials, including information on covered bridges, Clinton County historical markers, ghost towns and post offices.
“We’d talk for hours about local history and her book,” Kimok said. “Phyllis was very detail-oriented and was getting quite proficient at using a computer, something that wasn’t easy for her in the beginning, but which she was determined to figure out.”
Wells also published the “Subject Index to the Clinton County Portion of the History of Clinton and Franklin Counties, N.Y.”
“It was a huge success,” said Kimok.
Published in 1880, the “History of Clinton and Franklin Counties, N.Y.” — also known as the “Hurd History” — is the most comprehensive early history of Clinton and Franklin counties in existence, according to Kimok.
“Until Phyllis created her ‘Index,’ there was no way to easily find specific subjects in the Hurd publication, which is 508 pages long.”
The love Wells had for local history, Feinberg Library and Special Collections led her to donate all sales proceeds from the “Index” to Special Collections.
Mark Mastrean, assistant dean of Library and Information Services, expressed the gratitude felt by Feinberg Library staff.