Becky Howe (2012) wins Carwardine Prize for “Becoming Mum Bett”

18th November 2015

Recent Pembroke graduate Becky Howe, who served as Pembroke JCR President from 2013-14, has been awarded the 2015 Carwardine Prize by the History Faculty of the University of Oxford for her thesis entitled ‘Becoming ‘Mum Bett’: Elizabeth Freeman, Quock Walker, and the Nineteenth-Century Memory of Emancipation in Massachusetts’.

Inspiration for Becky’s thesis was sparked by time spent in New York, where she studied American Constitutional History at Cornell University in the summer before her final year at Oxford. An interest in legal history led her to write on the topic of the court cases that ended slavery in Massachusetts, and the manipulation of the collective memory of the cases in the nineteenth century.

Becky told us of her delight – and surprise - at winning the award: ‘I was absolutely stunned to learn I’d won the Carwardine Prize..! I can’t thank my supervisor enough - Pembroke’s own Dr Nicholas Cole – whose support, good humour and gentle mockery was invaluable to the research and writing process.‘

The Carwardine Prize is not the only recognition Becky has received in recent months. Building on her presidential experience at Pembroke, she was elected President of OUSU (Oxford University Student Union) for the academic year 2015-16.

Her campaign placed a strong emphasis on student welfare and the fostering of a cohesive community at Oxford and won her the position, meaning that she now spends her days representing Oxford University students both internally and externally, on an institutional, local and national level.

‘It’s an incredibly varied role, and I’m really enjoying it… Studying and living at Pembroke has given me the confidence to pursue things I never thought I would.’


The Carwardine Prize is named after Richard Carwardine, FBA, former Rhodes Professor of American History and current President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, and is awarded annually for the best undergraduate thesis in American history.