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Chinese Immigrants in Cuba: Documents from the James and Ana Melikian Collection

Date Range
1806 2015

An identity card, or cedula, for Hermin, originally from Canton. He was 34 years old when this card was issued. He was employed by Jose Maria Morales.

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A contract between Homobono, a Chinese settler, and Juan Serrate. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Homobono completed a contract with Angel previously.

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Certificate of nationality of a Chinese settler, Juan Agerin. It was signed by the Consulate General. He was originally from Canton.

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This is a second labor contract that belonged to Matias, a Chinese settler, and his owner, Ramon Flores Apodaca. Matias was brought from China to Cuba to work as an indentured servant and the term of the contract was for one year. This is signed by the governor, Ramon Flores Apodaca, and two witnesses. 1869.

Created Date

This is a Certificate of Nationality that belonged to Adrian Achao- a Chinese settler. The certificate served as a record indicating that Adrian had been registered at the Consulate General of China in Cuba as a subject of the Emperor of China. According to the document, at the time it was issued Adrian was 45 years old, single, a laborer, and considered a non-resident. He was from Canton in China, and lived in Matanzas in Cuba. 1884.

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This is a ship manifest of 352 Chinese settlers who traveled aboard an unknown ship from China to Cuba. The personal details of each settler included were their names, ages, origins, and type of labor they dedicated themselves to. Nine of these settlers died on the journey. 1857.

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A contract between Ramon, a Chinese settler, and Francisco San Varilla. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Ramon was originally from Macao. Ramon did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Francisco San Varilla and the governor of Havana.

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This is the second labor contract between Cipirian, a Chinese settler, and his owner, Gabriel Vivo y Fuentes in the city of Jaruco. Cipirian was originally from Canton and brought to Cuba to serve as an indentured servant. The length of the contract was for a year and details the rules of the contract under Cuban law. His salary was six and a half pesos. This document is signed by Gabriel Vivo y Fuentes, the governor of Jaruco and two witnesses, but not by Cipirian himself.

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This is a first labor contract that belonged to a Chinese settler, Fulano, in which he agreed to relocate to Cuba to work as an indentured servant for eight years. Unlike most of the first contracts in this series, this contract was completely handwritten. It states that this contract was then transferred to Martin Pedroso on July 26, 1847. Originally signed 1847.

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This is an example of the checks that were issued for Chinese settlers by their owners. This check was issued in the favor of Constantino for the amount of five pesos. 1863

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The Chinese Immigrants in Cuba collection includes hundreds of original documents, manuscripts and photos covering the migration of 125,000 Chinese who signed up to be cheap labor in Cuba from 1847 until the later 1890s. The archive continues until the 1970s and records the Chinese community in Cuba and is rich with photos. This massive collection, from the archive of James and Ana Melikian Collection, is probably the largest one in private hands concerning Chinese in Cuba. At present the collection contains over 1341 records and about 8,000-9,000 pages.