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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
1851 1970


This is an excerpt from a booklet titled "Documentos para la historia de gentes sin historia: El Trafico de Culies Chinos". The book contains an introduction that was written by Juan Perez de la Riva, in which he described and presented two important articles regarding the expansion of Chinese indentured servants in Cuba that are reproduced in the booklet. Juan Perez de la Riva explained the importance of these articles, and provided background information regarding the men who authored them. The first article titled "Informe del Sr. Don Francisco Diago a la Real Junta de Fomento sobre el projecto de …

Created Date
1851

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

Records for the ship Francois, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Mr. Laget, the agent for Casa Barin Leon Lay and Co.

Created Date
1859-04-04

An identity card for Manuel, originally from Macao. Manuel was twenty-four years old when this card was issued. He worked for the Society of Immigration for eight years.

Created Date
1860

This report was written by a member of the local board of health of Havana- Junta Local de Sanidad de la Habana, to a government official regarding the procedures and regulations for ships that arrived into the port of Havana with Chinese settlers on board, and the importance of those procedures. The board member explained that once the ships were docked in the port, the company introducing the settlers was required to provide ship manifests, the settlers' contracts, lists of the settlers who died during the journey and the causes of their deaths, and other documents to support that the …

Created Date
1860-03-14

A recommendation letter from an unnamed employer concerning the Chinese settlers he employed and their permanent residency status.

Created Date
1861

Lee, a Chinese settler, fulfilled a contract with Agustin. Agustin recommended that Lee be given permanent residency in Cuba because he met the legal requirements of completing an eight year contract with one employer. The letter also states that Lee always exhibited good conduct and behavior. Lee's permanent residency was confirmed by the governor.

Created Date
1861

A letter from F. Fernandez to the governor detailing new information about the legal rights of Chinese settlers in Cuba. It details how most settlers are contracted several times and work in agriculture or industry in the hopes of instilling in them good work habits.

Contributors
Fernandez, F.
Created Date
1861

Overview and minutes of meeting of 5 Chinese settlers hired to work in the field in 1861. They were transported to Cuba aboard the American ship “Francis P. Sage" under contract with Torices, Puente y Co and Ferran y Dupierris. These workers were hired to work in the fields in Bejucal.

Created Date
1861

An identity card, or cedula, for Jan Bak, originally from So Sin. Jan Bak was twenty seven years old when this card was issued. He had an eight year contract with Rodrigo Laray and then Antonio de Valle. He lived in Soltero.

Created Date
1861