Just a bit off topic, but interesting nonetheless. Random House has acquired what appears to be the oldest US prison memoir written by an African American. The 304-page manuscript, by a man named Austin Reed, was recently authenticated by scholars at Yale University.
Titled The Life and Adventures of a Haunted Convict, or the Inmate of a Gloomy Prison, the memoir traces Reed’s story of imprisonment and harsh punishment while he was at a state prison in upstate New York from the 1830s to the 1850s. The full online article may be found here.
There are a few interesting comments regarding copyright and public domain, including some that wonder just who a fee is being paid to. It also appears that the original, handwritten manuscript is online here.