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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
1832 1992


A contract between Blas, a Chinese settler, and Jose Basquet. The contract was to last for eight years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Blas completed a contract with Jose Basquet previously. Blas did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by the governor, two witnesses, and Jose Basquet.

Created Date
1871-05-06

A contract between Carlos, a Chinese settler, and Juan Lanalica. he contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Carlos did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by the governor, Juan Lanalica, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1867-02-17

This is a ship manifest that contained details of 305 Chinese settlers who boarded the Dutch ship "Vrow Johanna" with the intention of sailing to Havana, Cuba. Upon arrival in Cuba, each settler would be contracted to work as an indentured servant for eight years by various property owners in Cuba. The age, name, and origin of each settler were included in the list, and the settlers who died during the journey were marked as deceased. 1854.

Created Date
1854-03-31

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 ship manifest that detailed the 361 Chinese settlers who were taken to Cuba aboard the Spanish ship "Altagracia". Each settler on the ship was destined to work as an indentured servant for eight years under a strict contract with an owner. Prior to boarding the ship, each of them signed an eight year labor contract. Upon arrival in Cuba, their contracts would be ceded to various owners throughout Cuba. Included in the list are the ages, assigned numbers, names and origins of each settler.

Created Date
1871-01-16

This is a second labor contract that belonged to a Chinese settler named Leonio, and his owner, Felicito Perez; the term of this contract was for six months. 1867.

Created Date
1867-06-19

This is a second labor contract that was shared between Faustino- a Chinese settler, and his owner, Jose Serrate; the term of the contract was not specified. 1867.

Created Date
1867-06-13

A contract between Francisco, a Chinese settler, and Juan Ocarco y Arango. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Francisco did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Fermin Franco, Manuel Ruiz, Vicente, and Julio.

Created Date
1869-08-09

Records for the ship Encarnacion, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with La Alianza. On this trip, the Encarnacion brought 325 settlers from China to work.

Created Date
1871-07-12

Five Chinese settlers completed a contract with their original employer and were seeking to sign a new labor contract. Their owner agreed to sign a new one.

Created Date
1875-10-07

A contract between Tomas, a Chinese settler, and Narciso Gelado. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Tomas did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Narciso Gelado, the governor of Matanzas, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1867-09-21

This was a second labor contract that belonged to Lotesa- a Chinese settler, and D. Desiderio Casusa, his owner; the term of the contract was for two years.

Created Date
1869-09-20

8 Chinese settlers were hired to work. They were transported to Cuba aboard the ship Auguste y Gustave. These workers were hired to work as fieldworkers.

Created Date
1865-04-27

Records for the ship Alfonso de Albuquerque, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with La Alianza and Ferran y Dupierris. On this trip, the Alfonso de Albuquerque brought settlers from China to work in the fields.

Created Date
1864-06-10

A contract between Alvaro, a Chinese settler, and Pedro A. Arielhe. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes Alvaro completed a contract with Yugenio J. Rafael previously. Alvaro did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him.

Created Date
1868

A contract between Laureano, a Chinese settler, and Francisco Aballi. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes Laureano completed a contract with Francisco Aballi previously. Laureano did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Antonio Laucinca and Antonio Liney.

Created Date
1868-10-15

A contract between Timoteo, a Chinese settler, and Pedro Reynaldos. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. The contract is handwritten. Notes Timoteo was later granted a cedula, or identity card.

Created Date
1872-08-05

A contract between Julian, a Chinese settler, and Valentin de la Villa. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Julian did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Manuel, Valentin de la Villa, Jose Lope Francas, Guillermo Manuel Gomez.

Created Date
1865-07-22

This is a labor contract that was shared between Plutarco- a Chinese settler, and his owner, Julian Ramos; the term of the contract was for one year. Prior to this contract, Plutarco had completed another labor contract doing fieldwork for Manuel Arias. 1869.

Created Date
1869-11-05

This is a contract for Feliciano Luisi with Jose de la Portilla. May 1871.

Created Date
1871

This is the first contract signed by Felis for a year. It mentions his wages, how he is to be treated by his owners, and the expectations of his work. Cardenas, June 1866

Created Date
1866

A contract between Ro Moore, a Chinese settler and Pedro Reynaldo. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Ro Moore did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Carlos Catalan and Pedro Reynaldo.

Created Date
1858

A contract between Benigno, a Chinese settler, and Gabriel Vivo y Fuentes. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted Benigno completed a contract with Teresa Sermanat previously. Beigno was originally from Canton. Benigno did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Juan Gellamano, Luis Alcantara, and Manuel Ruiz.

Created Date
1869

This is a list of Chinese settlers who have been rehired for use in public works. 1862.

Created Date
1862

This is the first labor contract between Marcelo, a Chinese settler, and Ramon Flores Apodaca, his owner. Marcelo was brought to Cuba from China to work as an indentured servant in the fields. The term of the contract was for one year and, according to the document, Marcelo had completed a previous contract with a different owner.

Created Date
1869-08-05

A contract between Hipolito, a Chinese settler, and Pedro Reynaldos. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Hipolito completed the contract at the end of its proposed term. Hipolito did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Carlos Catalan and Pedro Reynaldo. Handwritten.

Created Date
1872-08-05

This is a second labor contract that was shared between Blas, a Chinese settler, and his owner, Jose Maria Bosquet y Cara. Blas was brought from China to Cuba to work as an indentured servant and the length of the contract was for two years. This is signed by the governor, Jose Maria Bosquet y Cara, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1871-05-06

A contract between Joaquin, a Chinese settler, and Ramon Flores Apodaca. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Joaquin did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Julian Gellanea, Vicente, and Manuel Arey.

Created Date
1869-08-05

A contract between Jose, a Chinese settler, and Julian Maresma. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Jose did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Jose Lopez Francas, Guillermo Gomez, Julian Maresma.

Created Date
1865-07-19

A contract between Felix, a Chinese settler, and Esteban Parody. The contract was to last for three years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Felix did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Esteban Pasos, Fernando, and Jose Herman.

Created Date
1862-02-10

This is a second labor contract that was shared between Laureano- a Chinese settler, and his owner Francisco Kalli; the term of the contract was for one year. 1867.

Created Date
1867-10-03

This is the second labor contract between Gavino, a Chinese settler, and D. Ramon Flores Apodaca, his owner. Gavino was brought to Cuba from Hay Fon in China to serve as an indentured servant. The term of this contract was for one year, and according to the document, Gavino and D. Ramon shared a previous labor contract prior to this one. This contract is signed by Ramon Flores Apodaca, the governor of Jaruco, and two witnesses, but not Gavino himself.

Created Date
1869-08-05

This is a cedula or ID card for Joaquin, a Chinese settler, in 1865, listing how long he had been living in Cuba. He was hired for eight years by the Society of Immigration and contracted to a mining company.

Created Date
1865

A contract between Modesto and Gabriel Vivo y Fuentes. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. He was originally from Macao.

Created Date
1869

This is the first contract between Feliciano Yam and Goicoaría y Hermano for an undisclosed amount of time. December 1854.

Created Date
1854

A contract between Jose Maria, a Chinese settler, and Ramon Flores Apodaca. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by the governor, Ramon Flores Apodaca, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1869-08-05

This is a neighborhood identity card (cedula) that belonged to Guan- a Chinese settler. Details included in the ID include his age, the type of work he did (domestic service), and information about his contract owners and their address.

Created Date
1861-01-02

This is a neighborhood identity card (cedula) that belonged to a Chinese settler named Paulino. At the time that this ID was issued for him, Paulino was 32 years old, and in the process of completing his eight year labor contract as an indentured servant.

Created Date
1865

A contract between Homobono, a Chinese settler, and Juan Serrate. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Homobono completed a contract with Angel previously.

Created Date
1867-06-13

This is a second labor contract that belonged to Matias, a Chinese settler, and his owner, Ramon Flores Apodaca. Matias was brought from China to Cuba to work as an indentured servant and the term of the contract was for one year. This is signed by the governor, Ramon Flores Apodaca, and two witnesses. 1869.

Created Date
1869-08-05

A contract between Ramon, a Chinese settler, and Francisco San Varilla. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Ramon was originally from Macao. Ramon did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Francisco San Varilla and the governor of Havana.

Created Date
1869-11-15

This is the second labor contract between Cipirian, a Chinese settler, and his owner, Gabriel Vivo y Fuentes in the city of Jaruco. Cipirian was originally from Canton and brought to Cuba to serve as an indentured servant. The length of the contract was for a year and details the rules of the contract under Cuban law. His salary was six and a half pesos. This document is signed by Gabriel Vivo y Fuentes, the governor of Jaruco and two witnesses, but not by Cipirian himself.

Created Date
1869-08-04

This is a first labor contract that belonged to a Chinese settler, Fulano, in which he agreed to relocate to Cuba to work as an indentured servant for eight years. Unlike most of the first contracts in this series, this contract was completely handwritten. It states that this contract was then transferred to Martin Pedroso on July 26, 1847. Originally signed 1847.

Created Date
1847-03-08

This is a second labor contract that belonged to Meco- a Chinese settler, and his owner; the term of the contract was for one year. 1868.

Created Date
1868-05-30

This is a cedula, or identity card, that belonged to a Chinese settler named Listo. At the time that this cedula was issued for him, Listo was 29 years old, and in the process of completing an eight year labor contract with Jose Aranguren. 1865.

Created Date
1865

This is a list of 154 Chinese workers who traveled to Cuba aboard the Mourne de Nantes, a French ship, and who upon arrival in Havana, Cuba, were ceded to Antonio Gutierrez. Details about the duration of the eight year contracts, including the start and end dates, as well as the the type of work they would be doing (fieldwork) were stipulated within the list. The Chinese and Spanish names of each settler, as well as their age and origin,L were also included in the list. Antonio Gutierrez, 1866

Created Date
1866-06-05

This is the first labor contract between Sang, otherwise known as Faustino, a Chinese settler, and his new owner, Jose Serrate in Matanzas. This contract was issued after Faustino completed a separate labor contract with another owner. The contract was for one year and his salary was twelve pesos and seventy-five cents. At the bottom, the contract is signed by Jose Serrate, the governor of Matanzas, and two witnesses, but not Faustino himself.

Created Date
1867-06-13

This is a second labor contract that was shared between Anacleto- a Chinese settler, and Manuel Paredes, his owner. By signing the contract, Anacleto agreed to work under the orders of Paredes for one year. 1869.

Created Date
1869-10-11

This is a list of Chinese indentured servants whose eight year labor contracts upon arrival in Havana, Cuba, were ceded to Bartolome Casanas. 1865

Created Date
1865-05-27

This is a second labor contract that was shared between Daniel a Chinese settler, and Jose Valentin de Cabo, his new owner, in which Daniel agreed to work for Jose Valentin de Cabo for one year. The contract was issued after Daniel completed his original eight year labor contract with another owner. 1869.

Created Date
1869-09-21

This is a second labor contract that was shared between Brito, a Chinese settler, and his owner, Gabriel Vivo y Fuentes; the term of the contract was for one year. 1869.

Created Date
1869-08-04

This is a second labor contract that belonged to Severo- a Chinese settler, and his owner, D. Francisco Gandarilla. The purpose of this second contract was to renew and extend Severo's original eight year labor contract with Gandarilla for six months. 1869.

Created Date
1869-11-15

This is a list of Chinese workers who upon arrival in Havana, Cuba, were contracted to Tomas Gutierrez. The duration of the eight year contracts, including the start and end dates, as well as the the type of work they would be doing (fieldwork) were stipulated within the list. The Chinese and Spanish names of each settler, as well as their age and origin were also included in the list. 1865

Created Date
1865-03-28

A contract between Joaquin, a Chinese settler, and Domingo E. Madan. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted Joaquin completed a contract with a different employer previously.

Created Date
1868-04-14

This is a formal request that was made on the behalf of Pedro, a Chinese settler, who sought permission to be rehired by his original owner under a new labor contract. 1872.

Created Date
1872-04-20

A contract between Felix, a Chinese settler, and Juan. The contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes Felix completed a contract with Juan previously. Felix did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by the governor, two witnesses, and Juan.

Created Date
1867-02-17

A contract between a Chinese settler and Jose de Cruz Torrez. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer.

Created Date
1864-07

A contract between Luis Esteban, a Chinese settler, and Santiago. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Luis Esteban completed a contract with Santiago previously. Luis Esteban did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. This is signed by the governor, Santiago, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1867-01-20

This is a request made to the Cuban government on the behalf of Trinidad Amador, a Spanish bussinessman, in which he sought permission to renew the contracts of five of his Chinese workers. 1875

Created Date
1875-10-07

This is a list of 35 contracted Chinese workers who were working for a company in the jurisdiction of Trinidad in Cuba. The only personal details included for each settler were their names and origins. Trinidad- 1873

Created Date
1873-09-09

A contract between Facundo, a Chinese settler, and Julian Maresma. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer.

Created Date
1865-07-19

A contract between Andres, a Chinese settler, and Juan Sanduala. The contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes Andres completed a contract with Juan Sanduala previously.

Created Date
1867-02-17