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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.


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.

Shipping records for a frigate that brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba. These settlers were later contracted by other employers in Sagua la Grande.

Created Date
1873

Eight Chinese settlers completed contracts with Tedeo Morales and were seeking to sign new labor contracts with their owner.

Created Date
1872

A contract between Antonio, a Chinese settler, and Pedro R. Casanas. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Benito completed a contract with Pedro previously. Antonio did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Pedro Casanas, Manuel Ruiz, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1869-09-29

Contract between Antonio, a Chinese settler, and Petrona Hernandes for six months in the countryside. The contract is signed by Petrona Hernandes, Antonio, and the governor of Cuba. Antonio signed in Chinese. 1866.

Created Date
1866

This is a letter of good conduct from Jorge Harris stating that the Chinese settler, Antonio, has completed his contract and displayed good conduct while working for Harris.

Created Date
1863

Records for the ship Reina de Oceano, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Troncoso, Bustamante y Co. On this trip, the Reina de Oceano brought workers from China to work as field workers for Bartolome Mujano.

Created Date
1861

This is a contract between Antonio, a Chinese settler, and J. Smith for the term of one year. 1861. Signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1861