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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
1858 1874


Application for permanent residence in Cuba for a Chinese settler, Roman. Included are his baptism certificate, a work contract and a request to be rehired, and several recommendations from the owners of the Sugar Refinery of Carmen.

Created Date
1865

This is an application for permanent residency for Pascual, a Chinese settler. It includes the settler's original contract signed in Macao, a letter of recommendation from a previous owner, stating that he had completed an eight year contract, his cedula or identity card, and a certificate of baptism.

Created Date
1865

Ancate, a Chinese settler, converted to Christianity. He was contracted by Felix Garcia y Co and chose the name Francisco.

Created Date
1865-06-11

Jose, a Chinese settler, converted to Christianity. He was contracted by Francisco Morales and was baptized in the Church of Cerro. His godfather was Jose Molina.

Created Date
1860-12-02

This baptism certificate belonged to Acuam Jo, a Chinese settler, who upon being baptized was renamed Juan Bautista. Acuam Jo was originally from Canton in China, and arrived in Cuba as an indentured servant in May of the year 1853. His original owner for his first eight year labor contract was a man named Juan de Dios Gonzalez. During the time that he was baptized and this certificate was written, Acuam Jo was in the process of completing a second contract with Jose Barrera in public works. 1864

Created Date
1864-09-13

This document served to record personal details regarding Join Achain- a Chinese settler, who had just been baptized and renamed Jose. Originally from Yoncon in China, Jose began serving his eight year term as a contracted indentured servant on January 15, 1859. Jose Moneo y Delgado, the man who wrote this document, was Jose's contract owner and godfather for baptism.

Created Date
1859

Certifies that Francisco Colono, a Chinese settler, completed an eight-year-contract with his employer, Diego de Fonseca.

Created Date
1868-06-11

Records pertaining to the right of a company to not pay for the burial of their employees if they die while contracted. The court ruling does mention that many settlers are poor and that the parish has struggled to find resources to help the poor, but that the bishop did not help the parishes. The Deposit of Immigrants has been persisting in changing public and legal perception of Chinese settlers as humans who have rights. However, companies are not legally obligated to fulfill a church job.

Created Date
1867

These are two death certificates that were issued for two Chinese settlers. The first one was signed on October 12, 1874, and pertained to a young girl named Brigida Fuentes who was the daughter of a Chinese settler named Celestina Fuentes. The second certificate was signed on October 5, 1874, and pertained to an unknown person. Havana.

Created Date
1874

These are four separate death certificates that pertained to four Chinese settlers who died in November of the year 1872. The first three certificates were issued at the same hospital- Real Hospital de Cardiad de S. Felipe y Santiago, and date that the settlers were admitted into the hospital, the number of days they remained in the hospital before they expired, and the cause of their deaths, were well documented. The fourth certificate pertained to a Chinese settler named Juan de Dios who was not assisted by a hospital when he died, and therefore not a lot of details were …

Created Date
1872