Skip to main content

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.


Date Range
1832 1992


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

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

A contract between Damian, a Chinese settler, and Martin de Cardenas y Laya. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by Martin de Cardenas and Damian, who signed in Chinese.

A blank contract for employees working with agents Mariano del Pielago and Merino Gelledo. It has two language versions: Spanish and Chinese. It indicates the instructions that the employees should follow.

A contract between Antonio, a Chinese settler, and Elias Lolano y Garcia. Antonio was originally from Macao. Noted that Antonio completed a contract with Juan Oxaca previously. Antonio did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by the governor, Elias Lolano y Garcia, and two witnesses.

This is a second work contract that was shared between Antonio- a Chinese settler, and his owner, D. Martin de Cardenas y Layas. Prior to entering this agreement, Antonio was being held in the municipal deposit of the capital; according to the fourth and fifth articles in the contract, and it is possible that he was required to enter this contract as a punishment for past transgressions against his owner. The length of this contract was for six months. Signed in Chinese.