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


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.


Mime Type
Resource Type
  • Image
Date Range
1806 1999


This is a collection of some news reported by Xinhua News Agency during 6/20/1999 and 6/24/1990.

Created Date
1999

A membership registration receipt of the Chinese Freemasons (Hongmen Society) of Cuba Branch.

Created Date
1992-12-28

Receipt of the membership registration fee to the Freemasonry society in Cuba.

Contributors
中國洪門民治黨駐古巴總支部
Created Date
1992-07-31

A younger brother sent a letter to his sister. He mentioned that he did not receive the reply of his sister and was afraid the letter was missed. So he hoped if his sister received it, please sent a letter to let him knew.

Created Date
1992-04-18

Notices issued by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in Cuba. The first notice issued by the Chinese Pharmacy in Cuba. It indicated the instruction for buying drugs and enumerate the date that people in different places could buy drugs from it. The second notice issued by the department of oversea remittance. It listed the detail and instruction for remittance.

Created Date
1992

Letter written to Ramon Wong. At the beginning the writer thanks for Mr. Wong's help. After that, he hoped that Ramon Wong could drive his uncles to the airport so that they could go back to Hong Kong safely.

Created Date
1992

A writer wrote a letter to his/ her uncle and auntie. In this letter, the writer told them his/ her track. In the last part of this letter, he/ she told them to contact him/her if their would go to Cuba. And there was some contact which related to the money transfer.

Created Date
1991

The Union Family Benevolent Association Inc sent the Huang Clan Association of Jiangxia in Cuba an invitation to participate the sociable party. However, the representative of the latter said as the circumstance did not allow them to go. So they could only reject this invitation. But at the end, they also hope the party will be held successfully.

Created Date
1991

This is a letter from Peter Tan to the administrator of Kwong Wah Po( Guanghua newspaper). With an attached check of 20 Canadian dollars, Tan expressed his willing of subscribing to Guanghua Newspaper.

Created Date
1990-07-20

A membership license of Casino Chung Wah Association in Havana, the holder's name is Huang Zhiwen. On page 1 is the serial number of this license, together with the holder's photograph. On Page 2 is Huang's personal information, including name, gender, date of birth, address in China and address in Cuba. Page 3 and 4 are about medicine shopping record. On page 5 and 6 there is a list of names of Huang's relatives, and there gender, age, relationship, job and address.

Created Date
1990

Identification card for Wong Git issues in 1987. He was born in 1917 in China. He came to Cuba in 1948 and was a permanent resident of Cuba.

Created Date
1987

This is a copy of Statue of Casino Chung Wah. Casino Chung Wah, also called centro principal de la comunidad China en cuba, is the main association of Chinese immigrants in Cuba.

Created Date
1984-01-01

This is a certificate from the executive secretary of the Municipal Director of Education. This certificate was for Hector Fund for completing his class evaluations.

Created Date
1983

This is a certificate of completion from the Congress of the Center of Workers of Cuba to Hector Fund.

Created Date
1983

A newspaper draft of Kwong Wah Po, dating 5/18/1982.

Created Date
1982-05-18

page one to pages four are chapters from a famous Chinese martial novel written by Louis Cha Leung-yung. Page five is a section of the newspaper Kwong Wah Po.

Created Date
1982-05-11

Here is a sample of Kwong Wah Po, Guanghua Newspaper, dating 4/20/1982. There are mainly 7 sections, including world news, healthy comments, advertisement and a continued story.

Created Date
1982-04-20

This is a membership card of Casino Chung Wah(古巴中華總會館會員證). The owner's name is Kuang Minqiang. This membership card includes the owner and his relevant's basic personal information.

Created Date
1982

Wong Hungfai, the son of Wong Wunkui sent a letter to his father to ask about the issue of money transfer. As the amount of the money was not correct and made him confused, so he sent this letter to his father to ask for details.

Created Date
1977-03-14

The granduncle (Minjie 敏捷)had sent money to the writers (Songfang 松芳, Songzhan 松沾, and Songbin 松彬). The writers wrote a thank you letter to him.

Created Date
1977

A member of Cuban Overseas Chinese Socialist Alliance paid the member fee during that year, and the latter issued a receipt to confirm his payment.

Created Date
1975

A certificate of appointment which indicated that Min Qia had been appointed as the candidate of executive member of Gongce 共策 (Strategic Plan) Committee, Freemasonry Society in Cuba.

Created Date
1975

A letter written by a 84-year-old person and it was sent to Minqia. In the letter, the writer said he would try best to get the authorization. And he/ she told Minqia did not tell any person that he/ she complained to her as he/ she did not want to cause any inconvenience. Finally, he/ she said even he/ she are not as healthy as possible, he/ she also hoped the family members of Minqiu could have a good health.

Created Date
1974

This is the last page of a letter sent o China from a Chinese medical student in Cuba in 1973. In the letter, Wenchao 文超, the Chinese medical student expressed his sadness and regret in the sudden death of his grandmother and his deep appreciation for everything her mother had sacrificed for him. He also expected to find a job in the United States and meet his father there after his graduation.

Created Date
1973-01-17

This documents the hiring Chinese settlers for public work projects. Not dated.

Created Date
1973

Newspaper snippet from the Vietnam War, specifically an obituary.

Created Date
1971

A contract between Fang-Achat, a Chinese settler, and L. Miguel Gonzalez. The contract does not state how long it was supposed to last, but it lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Contract signed by L. Miguel Gonzalez and two others, but not the settler. Also features the contract in Chinese.

Contributors
鄧, 七

The cedula or identity card for Cesares, a Chinese immigrant working in Cuba. He worked for Jesus Alalli.

An election roll from the Association of the Chinese settlers' Palma Soriano delegation of the Society of Instruction and Recreation. It lists the President, Vice President, Secretary, Vice Secretary, Treasurer, Vice Treasurer, and speakers. Sent to the Provincial Government of Oriente.

This is a certificate from the executive secretary of the Municipal Director of Education. This certificate was for Hector Fund for completing his class evaluations.

A letter from Francisco Changsoy and Jorge F. Hands, the President and the Secretary of the Delegation of Guantanamo. It lists the President, Vice President, Secretary, the Vice Secretary, Treasurer, and Vice Treasurer.

Handwritten Chinese language lessons Text Book

The membership certificate of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in Cuba (Zhonghua zonggonghui 古巴中華縂工會) This certificate belongs to Hang Zhifu 黃質父 with a Spanish name “Wong Man.” He was born on May 16th, 1899. According to the record, it seems that he married twice: His first wife was a Chinese who stayed in Taishan 台山 of Guangdong Province. His second wife was a local woman who lived with him and they had at least two kids: Jose and Maria. His wife’s name might be Liolida Gil.

Identity card for foreigners, issued to Wing Git Wong, born in 1917. He entered Cuba in 1948 and became a permanent resident. His parents names are listed and he is said to reside in Soltero

Certified for the Consul General of Portugal.

This document contains a record of payments that were made out to several Chinese workers by their owner. While being indentured servants, Chinese settlers were given monthly wages for their services.

An identity record, or cedula, for a Chinese settler, Pelayo. He was brought from Soltero, China to Cuba to work for Nicolas Martines Valdivieso for eight years.

Records for the ship Carmencita, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Troncaso Bustamante. The ship was captained by Captain Garcia.

Record pertaining to a judge's investigation into the records of Pedro Amador, a Chinese settler. He was originally from Canton, but was working in Havana. The court certified that Pedro Amador's records did not contain any concerning contents.

A recommendation letter from an unnamed employer concerning the Chinese settlers he employed and their permanent residency status. Does not mention the names of the Chinese settlers.

Shipping records of Torices, Puentes y Co. regarding the ships they contracted to bring Chinese settlers from China to Cuba to work. Includes letters from captains of some of these ships detailing to the government their contracts with Torices, Puente y Co.

Describes changes to laws detailing the legal rights of Chinese settlers in Cuba. These changes focused on the working and religious rights as lawmakers hoped to instill in the settlers "good moral and religious" principles.

Shipping records for the frigates, Live Yankee and Wake, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Torices, Puente y Co. These workers were contracted in Macao. They were to be contracted out to other employers.

Business records for Doctors Eugenio Gonzales and Carlos Belot, professors of Medicine. They hired six Chinese settlers to work for them at their office.

Payment records of an unnamed employer. Lists the Chinese settlers employed, how much they are owed, and the total amount of pesos.

Certifies that the signer of this documents has been accepted as a member of the Mason Order with the degree of Master Mason in the China Masonry. He fulfilled the requirements of the order to become the Master Mason

A book, Logia Cosmopolita, owned by Ramón Gonzalez de la Gandara, translated by Juan Raul Pons Sou.

A contract between Aqui, a Chinese settler, and Carlo Flotard, who worked as an agent for Campbell and Caro. Campbell and Caro gave Carlo Flotard the ability to contract Chinese workers and bring them from China to Cuba to work. The contract lists the legal requirements of both the settler and the company. Aqui was originally from Poloe. Aqui did not negotiation or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Flotard, A. de Garza, and Cañete y Morales. Also features the contract in Chinese.

Contributors
亞, 之

Relates that several Chinese settlers were granted permanent residency in Cuba after meeting the legal requirements. Most of the document is a list of the settlers who received their residency.

The membership card of Damaso Lorenzo Fong for the Casino Chung Wah Association in Havana.

This is a series of documents written in Chinese and Spanish, including a deposit certificate from Bank of China and an inviting letter to Chinese naval staff for a banquet. Other two welcome letters from Havana tobacco company to the Chinese naval are also included.

A Chinese text book written in both Simplified Chinese and Pinyin, including daily dialogues and exercises.

A photograph of a couple with a note "Foto Dore Real No. 119 Marianao". It is presumed that it was taken in the Marianao municipality in Havana.

This is a membership license of Cuba Chinese association. The holder's name is Huang Wenfen. On the first two pages is a record of medicine shopping, including dates and amount of money. On the last two pages is the record Huang's relatives. His wife had died in his hometown and his younger brother was living in Guangzhou at that time.

Created Date
1970

Francisco Plazaola, a Chinese settler, converted to Christianity. In his baptism, he offered his loyalty to the Cuban government and the church in order to eventually receive permanent residency in Cuba, a legal requirement. He also dedicated his life and fealty to God.

Official naturalization document of Simon, a Chinese settler, who was granted his carta de naturaleza, or naturalization documents. Relates that Simon had take an oath of loyalty and obedience to the Cuban government that was required of him.

Serapio, a Chinese settler, converted to Christianity. In his baptism, he offered his loyalty to the Cuban government and the church in order to eventually receive permanent residency in Cuba, a legal requirement. He was baptized by Sebastian Juanenea.

Relates that Vicente, a Chinese settler, was granted permanent residency in Cuba after fulfilling the legal requirements.

A contract between Narceso, a Chinese settler, and A. R. Ferran and Rafael R. Torices. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements for both the employee and the employer. Signed by Narceso, who signed in Chinese. Also features the contract in Chinese.

Record of business deal for Agapita Ruiz Gonzalez, Domingo Rios, and Juan Garcia concerning the importation of Chinese settlers to Cuba to work.

Record of business deals for Jose Garcia and Agapita Ruiz Gonzalez with the Society of Asian Colonization concerning the importation of Chinese settlers to Cuba to work.

Relates that the civil government regulated the ability of Chinese settlers to marry. If they possessed a cedula, or identity record (meaning they were legally employed in Cuba, but had not yet become a permanent resident), they needed permission to marry anyone who was considered to be of a different race. Chinese settlers could only marry other Chinese settlers without permission

Report on the efforts of Manuel B. de Pereda to bring Chinese settlers to Cuba to work. The Civil Government had to consider what ships could be allowed to import settlers, who could sponsor them, and the laws concerning their rights and work privileges.

Report on the efforts of Manuel B. de Pereda to bring Chinese settlers to Cuba to work. The Civil Government had to consider what ships could be allowed to import settlers, who could sponsor them, and the laws concerning their rights and work privileges.

A letter from Eugenio Ponton from the port of Havana to the mayor's office. It details a dispute between Gregorio Tejedor and the Society of Pereda, Machado y Co over compensation for some Chinese settlers that Tejedor contracted from the company.

A letter from C. J. Vallin to the governor. It details the arrival of a ship in Havana's harbor and the examination of the Chinese settlers onboard. The Administration of Sanity was satisfied with their health.

Relates that Juan Ley Acheu, a Chinese settler, was granted permanent residency in Cuba after fulfilling the legal requirements.

Records for the ship Flora, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with D. I. M. Zangroniz. On this trip, Flora brought settlers from China to work.

Records for the ship Flora, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba. On this trip, the Flora brought three hundred and nine settlers from China to work.

Records for the ship Flora, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba. On this trip, the Flora brought three hundred and nine settlers from China to work.

Records pertaining to the unfair arrest and trials of Chinese settlers, who the author believed made the society much less corrupt. However, the Cubans treat the settlers badly and as a result, they tend to lack the moral and religious principles the written wanted them to have. The author hopes that new laws and regulations will improve the situation of Chinese settlers in Cuba.

Records for the ship Live Yankee, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Torices, Puente y Co.

This document contains a record of payments that were made out to several Chinese workers by their owner. Chinese settlers were given monthly wages for their services.

The Superior Civil Government investigates the Society of Bustmante y Troncaso's hiring practices, relating to the illegal hiring of Chinese settlers under the age of 14. Many of their contracts did not mention the age of the settlers as to avoid the legal age requirements.

This document contains a record of payments that were made out to several Chinese workers by their owner. While being indentured servants, Chinese settlers were given monthly wages for their services.

Burial records for Chinese settlers, overseen by a bishop. They were buried in a cemetery in Havana. The bishop asked for their to be a special cemetery for Chinese settlers that was to be set up by the Superior Government.

This image includes some statements on Japanese politician Morihiro Hosokawa. Maybe it is from an analysis report or a newspaper report.

This may be an abandoned politics news report draft of Kwong Wah Po, the local Chinese Cuban newspaper.

Here is a summary of the survey on Japanese politician Morihiro Hosokawa.

A shipping manifest from an unknown ship.

List of Chinese settlers who ran away from their owners and were later captured. After capture, they were held in the Municipal Slave Deposit in Santa Maria del Rosario. Their names, ages, and nationality are listed along with the dates of their escape and capture.

Contributors
伍, 于璞

This is a notepad used by its owner for lists and daily activities. For example, he lists his friends' home address or lists which told him what he should buy.

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Family letter

Letter written to the father-in-law. The son-in-law knew his father-in-law will go to U.S.A and said he would be willing to provide financial support to him.

It is a personal Letter sent by two daughters who lived in Hong Kong. They told their father their and their relatives' details and hoped that he could come back to Hong Kong.

A letter sent from a mother, whose husband’s family name is Chen 陳, to her son Chen Shubang 陳樹邦 who was working in Cuba with his father.

This is a phone book which listed several persons' phone number.

A letter given to two persons (Shubang and Minyao). The writers (mother and a grandmother) asked why one of the receivers (Shubang) did not send them a photo. They asked him to send a photo if they received the letter.