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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.


Mime Type
  • application/pdf
Date Range
1832 1992


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.