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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.


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Date Range
1806 1987


A contract between Andres, a Chinese settler, and Juan Sanduala. The contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes Andres completed a contract with Juan Sanduala previously.

Created Date
1867-02-17

A contract between Facundo, a Chinese settler, and Julian Maresma. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer.

Created Date
1865-07-19

Records for the ship Altagracia, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba. On this trip, the Altagracia brought 361 settlers from China to work.

Created Date
1871-01-16

This is a list of 35 contracted Chinese workers who were working for a company in the jurisdiction of Trinidad in Cuba. The only personal details included for each settler were their names and origins. Trinidad- 1873

Created Date
1873-09-09

This is a list of Chinese settlers who had escaped from their owners in the Jurisdiction of Cardenas. The list includes the following details of each settler: the date which they escaped, their name, age, stature, origin, owners, and neighborhood. Cardenas- 1858.

Created Date
1858-05-01

This is a request made to the Cuban government on the behalf of Trinidad Amador, a Spanish bussinessman, in which he sought permission to renew the contracts of five of his Chinese workers. 1875

Created Date
1875-10-07

A contract between Luis Esteban, a Chinese settler, and Santiago. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Luis Esteban completed a contract with Santiago previously. Luis Esteban did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. This is signed by the governor, Santiago, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1867-01-20

These are three fines were issued to three separate Chinese settlers for having violated some rule or for having committed some sort of penalty. Matanzas- 1874

Created Date
1874-08-12

A contract between a Chinese settler and Jose de Cruz Torrez. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer.

Created Date
1864-07

A contract between Felix, a Chinese settler, and Juan. The contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes Felix completed a contract with Juan previously. Felix did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by the governor, two witnesses, and Juan.

Created Date
1867-02-17

This is a formal request that was made on the behalf of Pedro, a Chinese settler, who sought permission to be rehired by his original owner under a new labor contract. 1872.

Created Date
1872-04-20

A contract between Joaquin, a Chinese settler, and Domingo E. Madan. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted Joaquin completed a contract with a different employer previously.

Created Date
1868-04-14

This is a list of Chinese workers who upon arrival in Havana, Cuba, were contracted to Tomas Gutierrez. The duration of the eight year contracts, including the start and end dates, as well as the the type of work they would be doing (fieldwork) were stipulated within the list. The Chinese and Spanish names of each settler, as well as their age and origin were also included in the list. 1865

Created Date
1865-03-28

This is a neighborhood identity card (cedula) that belonged to Teodoro, a Chinese settler. San Antonio, 1860.

Created Date
1860-11-12

This is a Certificate of Nationality that belonged to Miguel Hernandez- a Chinese settler. The certificate served as a record indicating that Miguel 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 Miguel was 38 years old, single, a laborer, and considered a non-resident. He was from Canton in China, and lived in Cuevitas in Cuba.

Created Date
1883-12-27

This is a second labor contract that belonged to Severo- a Chinese settler, and his owner, D. Francisco Gandarilla. The purpose of this second contract was to renew and extend Severo's original eight year labor contract with Gandarilla for six months. 1869.

Created Date
1869-11-15

This is a second labor contract that was shared between Brito, a Chinese settler, and his owner, Gabriel Vivo y Fuentes; the term of the contract was for one year. 1869.

Created Date
1869-08-04

This is a second labor contract that was shared between Daniel a Chinese settler, and Jose Valentin de Cabo, his new owner, in which Daniel agreed to work for Jose Valentin de Cabo for one year. The contract was issued after Daniel completed his original eight year labor contract with another owner. 1869.

Created Date
1869-09-21

This is a certificate of nationality that belonged to Pedro Aloy, a Chinese settler. The certificate served as a record indicating that Pedro 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 Pedro was 42 years old, single, and considered a non-resident. He was from Canton in China, and lived in Matanzas in Cuba. 1884.

Created Date
1884-12-13

The intent of this document was to stipulate the purposes and rules regarding cedulas (neighborhood identity cards).

Created Date
1855

This is a neighborhood identity card (cedula) that belonged to Gustabo, a Chinese settler. It lists his home address.

Created Date
1872-01-25

This is a list of Chinese indentured servants whose eight year labor contracts upon arrival in Havana, Cuba, were ceded to Bartolome Casanas. 1865

Created Date
1865-05-27

This is a second labor contract that was shared between Anacleto- a Chinese settler, and Manuel Paredes, his owner. By signing the contract, Anacleto agreed to work under the orders of Paredes for one year. 1869.

Created Date
1869-10-11

This is a death record of Lucas- a Chinese settler. Information about the cause of his death, which was cholera in this case, and when and where he was buried was recorded in the document.

Created Date
1868-09-05

Two separate records are included within these documents. One document is the record of the departure of Emigrante, a Spanish ship, from China for Cuba on April 6, 1859. The second document is a record of the departure of Daguerre and Yormose, both French ships, from China to Cuba on February 23, 1859. The intent of the three voyages was to transport Chinese settlers to Cuba, where they would begin working for several Spanish land and factory owners as indentured servants.

Created Date
1859

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.

Created Date
1884-12-18

This is a Certificate of Nationality that belonged to Jose Alli- a Chinese settler. The certificate served as a record indicating that Jose 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 Jose was 34 years old, single, and considered a non-resident. He was from Canton in China. Havana- 1883

Created Date
1883-12-12

This is the first labor contract between Sang, otherwise known as Faustino, a Chinese settler, and his new owner, Jose Serrate in Matanzas. This contract was issued after Faustino completed a separate labor contract with another owner. The contract was for one year and his salary was twelve pesos and seventy-five cents. At the bottom, the contract is signed by Jose Serrate, the governor of Matanzas, and two witnesses, but not Faustino himself.

Created Date
1867-06-13

Neighborhood ID card (a cedula) that belonged to Benito Ramos- a Chinese settler.

Created Date
1871-02-16

This is a list of 154 Chinese workers who traveled to Cuba aboard the Mourne de Nantes, a French ship, and who upon arrival in Havana, Cuba, were ceded to Antonio Gutierrez. Details about the duration of the eight year contracts, including the start and end dates, as well as the the type of work they would be doing (fieldwork) were stipulated within the list. The Chinese and Spanish names of each settler, as well as their age and origin,L were also included in the list. Antonio Gutierrez, 1866

Created Date
1866-06-05

This is a cedula, or identity card, that belonged to a Chinese settler named Listo. At the time that this cedula was issued for him, Listo was 29 years old, and in the process of completing an eight year labor contract with Jose Aranguren. 1865.

Created Date
1865

Records of the ship, "Julian de Murueta", which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba. The Julian de Murueta stopped in Swatao and Santa Abalena before coming to Havana.

Created Date
1855-10-12

This is a second labor contract that belonged to Meco- a Chinese settler, and his owner; the term of the contract was for one year. 1868.

Created Date
1868-05-30

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

Created Date
1863-08-31

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.

Created Date
1847-03-08

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.

Created Date
1869-08-04

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.

Created Date
1869-11-15

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.

Created Date
1857-06-22

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.

Created Date
1884-12-10

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
1869-08-05

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

Created Date
1884-01-08

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.

Created Date
1867-06-13

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.

Created Date
1866

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

Created Date
1884-02-18

This is a neighborhood identity card (cedula) that belonged to a Chinese settler named Paulino. At the time that this ID was issued for him, Paulino was 32 years old, and in the process of completing his eight year labor contract as an indentured servant.

Created Date
1865

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

Created Date
1884-12-10

This is a Certificate of Nationality for a Chinese settler, Ramon Chian.

Created Date
1881

This is a neighborhood identity card (cedula) that belonged to Guan- a Chinese settler. Details included in the ID include his age, the type of work he did (domestic service), and information about his contract owners and their address.

Created Date
1861-01-02

This is a report concerning Miato, a runaway Chinese worker, and the record of his interrogation signed on October 17, 1870. The document begins with an opening statement describing a mandate to perform a thorough investigation and interrogation of the circumstances leading to Miato's escape and the appointment of witnesses; the latter half documents the interrogation. Bejucal- 1870.

Created Date
1870-10-14

A contract between Jose Maria, a Chinese settler, and Ramon Flores Apodaca. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by the governor, Ramon Flores Apodaca, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1869-08-05