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Sara Schwebel Recognized for Excellence in Digital Humanities Collaboration

Sara Schwebel’s outstanding work on Island of the Blue Dolphins receives American Studies Association award and USC Distinguished Undergraduate Research Mentor award.


(Left picture) Molly Carlson '18, Alexis Michalos '18, Sydney Cowart '18, Haley Sprankle '18, Ashley Graham '17
(Right picture) Carina Leaman '18, E.A. Matthews '18, Sara Schwebel, Paige Kuester '17, Rose Steptoe '19


English Professor Sara L. Schwebel’s digital archive on the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island (the historical model for Island of the Blue Dolphins) and her collaborative work on the Channel Islands National Park’s website on the novel was just awarded honorable mention for the 2017 Garfinkel Prize by the American Studies Association. The Garfinkel Prize “recognizes exceptional work at the intersection of Digital Humanities and American Studies.”

Schwebel’s edited website, the Lone Woman and Last Indians Digital Archive, features over 450 annotated historical documents about the 19th-century California Indian woman who survived alone on San Nicolas island for eighteen years; children’s author Scott O’Dell fictionalized her in his novel as the character “Karana.” The Channel Islands National Park subject site on Island of the Blue Dolphins, which hosts the archive, includes standards-based K-12 lesson plans as well as a wealth of multimedia material about the cultural and natural history of its island setting. 

University of South Carolina students contributed to both the Lone Woman and Last Indians Digital Archive and the Channel Islands National Park subject site. In recognition of Schwebel’s exemplary guidance and encouragement, the students nominated her for a Distinguished Undergraduate Research Mentor award, which she accepted at the graduation ceremony in Spring 2017.  

In conjunction with the digital archive, Schwebel has edited Island of the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader’s Edition, the first critical edition of this influential children’s book, including two chapters excised from the original draft. It was published by the University of California Press in 2016. She has also published Child-Sized History: Fictions of the Past in U.S. Classrooms from Vanderbilt University Press, 2011, which discusses Island of the Blue Dolphins in its chapter on “Indians Mythic and Human.”