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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


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

This collection of documents pertains to the death of Zenon Porto; he was a free Chinese settler in Cuba who owned his own fish frying business. The first document in this group is an announcement of his death on July 28, 1971, that was made by a Cuban police official. Within the same document, the official explained that an investigation and interrogation into the matters of his death would take place. Several records of the interrogations are included in this collection. Three Chinese settlers who were familiar with Zenon Porto including his brother Nicolas, and two neighbors- Domingo and Pedro, …

Created Date
1871-07-28

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

Documents pertaining to the Chinese settler, Desiderio from Vaij Chao. Contains: contract written in Spanish and Chinese, signed in Macao on October 23, 1865.

Created Date
1866

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

Record of a Chinese settler letter home. Contains: recontract request signed in Chinese in 1865, Chinese settler original contract in Matanzas in 1864, Identity card for Chinese settlers in 1864, Chinese settler original contract in Matanzas in 1865, record of baptism of Chinese settler 1865, Request for a letter of address- he said he was hired at the ingenio Carmen oliva, compliance with contract document in the sugar mill with carmen olivia 1866, recommendations of good conduct from previous owners, pledge of allegiance the the Spanish crown signed in chinese

Created Date
1865

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

Record the death of a Chinese settler in 1865. contains: other documents; identity card Chinese settlers; original contract written in Chinese and Castilian, Macao 1860.

Created Date
1865