Yale Scholar Edits the Earliest-Known Manuscript of an African American Prison Inmate

ReedBookA manuscript that is the earliest-known memoir of an African American prison inmate was acquired by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University in 2009. The manuscript, written by Austin Reed more than 150 years ago, has been edited by Caleb Smith, a professor of English and American studies at Yale, and has been published as The Life and Adventures of a Haunted Convict (Random House, 2016).

In the memoir, Austin Reed, an indentured servant who was born free in Rochester, New York, describes his experiences in the 1830s through 1858 in New York’s House of Refuge, a juvenile reformatory. He was originally convicted of arson and was sentenced to the reformatory and then released on several occasions.

Professor Smith stated that “I think Reed’s book is the most fascinating piece of prison literature, both for its historical interest and its literary power. He sees the aspects of the industrial prison in 1858 that it will allow it to become a weapon of racial domination after the Civil War. And he also understands, intimately, the promises and limits of rehabilitation.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Elizabeth City State University Establishes Transfer Agreements With a Local Community College

Through three recently signed agreements, students at the College of the Albemarle now have the opportunity for a seamless transfer to Elizabeth City State University upon completion of their associate's degree.

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Reports on Demographic Disparities Within American Public Workforce

The report found that Black workers in overrepresented occupations make about $20,000 to $30,000 less than the compensation of White workers in overrepresented fields. African Americans were also found to be more likely than White Americans to work in a lower-wage, segregated occupations.

Christon Arthur Named First Black President of La Sierra University in California

Upon assuming his new role on July 1, Dr. Arthur will become the first Black president of La Sierra University. He has served as provost of Andrews University in Michigan for the past eight years.

Business Leaders Engaging in Same-Race Diversity Initiatives Are Perceived as Displaying Favoritism

When asked to measure their employers' effectiveness in same-race versus cross-race diversity efforts, participants were more likely to negatively rate leaders who engaged in diversity initiatives geared towards members of their own race.

Featured Jobs