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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.


Date Range
1855 1878


Certifies that several settlers completed their eight-year-contracts with Rita Barberia at the sugar factory, Carmencita. He was eventually granted permanent residency after fulfilling the legal requirements. Their cedulas or identity records and contracts were originally included with the letter, but are not included in this document. The Chinese settlers were named Felipe, Leon Juan, and Victoriano.

Created Date
1861

A contract between Liborio or Yong-aun, a Chinese settler, and Juan Poey. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Leborio did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Contract signed by Enrique Morales.

Created Date
1878-07-15

A contract between Pablo, a Chinese settler, and Juan Hernandez. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements for both the employee and the employer. Noted that Pablo completed a contract with Juan Hernandez previously. Pablo did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Contract signed by Enrique Morales.

Created Date
1871

A contract between Achung, a Chinese settler, and Juan Poey. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements for both the employee and the employer. Notes that Achung completed this contract and was granted a cedula or identity card a few years later. Achung did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him.

Created Date
1871

A contract between Timoteo, a Chinese settler, and Pedro Reynaldos. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. The contract is handwritten. Notes Timoteo was later granted a cedula, or identity card.

Created Date
1872-08-05

This is the first contract signed by Felis for a year. It mentions his wages, how he is to be treated by his owners, and the expectations of his work. Cardenas, June 1866

Created Date
1866

A contract between Benigno, a Chinese settler, and Gabriel Vivo y Fuentes. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted Benigno completed a contract with Teresa Sermanat previously. Beigno was originally from Canton. Benigno did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Juan Gellamano, Luis Alcantara, and Manuel Ruiz.

Created Date
1869

A contract between Modesto and Gabriel Vivo y Fuentes. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. He was originally from Macao.

Created Date
1869

Certifies that Valentin, a Chinese settler, completed an eight-year-contract with his employer. He was eventually granted permanent residency after fulfilling the legal requirements.

Created Date
1871

Justino Campbell transferred his contracts with several Chinese settlers in Cardenas and Matanzas to the Superior Civil Government so that these workers may obtain their cedulas or personal identity cards.

Created Date
1861-05-08

These death and identity records pertain to Felipe, a Chinese settler. The first document indicates that when Felipe died he was 51 years old, in the process of completing his preliminary eight year contract as an indentured servant, and he was working as a fieldworker for D. Antonio G. Solar. The second document in this selection is the death certificate that was written for Felipe on March 29, 1861; the cause of his death was described within this record. The final document in this selection is Felipe's cedula, or neighborhood identity card. According to the cedula, Felipe originally shared his …

Created Date
1861-05-20

This group of documents pertain to the disappearance of 14 Chinese settlers and their cedulas, and the search that ensued to locate them and return them to their owners. A claim was made by the owners of the cedulas- D. Antonio and Eduardo Betancourt, on November 27, 1858. Various authority figures in several of the Cuban towns responded to the report and promised to keep an active search, and to remain in constant communication regarding the missing 14 settlers. However, it was later established within the reports that D. Antonio Betancourt had provided fraudulent contracts about the 14 settlers, and …

Created Date
1858-11-27

An identity card, or cedula, for Simon. Simon was twenty-three years old when this card was issued. He had a contract with Jose Maria Criado. Simon had begun his eight year contract with D. RR Torres, but his contract had been ceded to Jose Maria Criado.

Created Date
1864-12-16

An identity card, or cedula, for Enrique. He was thirty one years old when this card was issued. He had a work contract with Y. S. de Castro and had completed a previous contract with the mining company, Comolidada.

Created Date
1865

This is an identity card, known as a cedula, that was issued for a Chinese settler named Lucas. At the time that this cedula was assigned to Lucas, he was 29 years old, and in the process of completing his eight year contract as an indentured servant. The names of two of his past landlords and his current one were listed on the cedula. Originally, when he arrived in Cuba, his contract had been transferred to M. B. Pereda who then transferred the contract to Juan Peyra. Jose M. Criado was Lucas's present owner at the time that this cedula …

Created Date
1864-12-16

This is a neighborhood identity card (cedula) that belonged to a Chinese settler in Cuba. When this cedula was issued, the settler was 27 years old, a fieldworker, and in the process of completing his initial eight year labor contract as an indentured servant. The names of some of his contract owners are also listed on the cedula. Havana, 1861.

Created Date
1861-11-02

Cedula or identification card for Toribio, a Chinese settler. He was originally from Soltero and is in the process of of fulfilling a contract with a Cuban landowner. 1869.

Created Date
1869

This is a cedula, or an ID card, that belonged to a Chinese settler named Dionisio. Dionisio was brought to Cuba by la Compania and was then contracted to M. del Cobre. 1865.

Created Date
1865

An identity card, or cedula, for Manuel, originally from Macao. Manuel was twenty four years old when this card was issued. He had an eight year contract with the Society of Immigration.

Created Date
1866-05-07

This is a cedula or ID card for Joaquin, a Chinese settler, in 1865, listing how long he had been living in Cuba. He was hired for eight years by the Society of Immigration and contracted to a mining company.

Created Date
1865