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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 1961


Record of business deal for Benigno Gonzalez Alvarez with the Society of Asian Colonization concerning the importation of Chinese settlers to Cuba to work.

Created Date
1860-05-19

Record of business deal for Benigno Gonzalez Alvarez with the Society of Asian Colonization concerning the importation of Chinese settlers to Cuba to work.

Created Date
1860-05-09

Record of business deal for Cayetano Corazion and Luis Lusini with the Society of Asian Colonization concerning the importation of Chinese settlers to Cuba to work.

Created Date
1860-03-31

Record of business deal for Benigno Gonzalez Alvarez and Luis Lusini with the Society of Asian Colonization concerning the importation of Chinese settlers to Cuba to work.

Created Date
1855-01-30

Record of Carlos de Zaldo, who contracted Chinese settlers to move to Cuba to work. He worked with Ferran, Dupierris y Co.

Created Date
1858

Record of Carlos de Zaldo, who contracted Chinese settlers to move to Cuba to work. He worked with Ferran, Dupierris y Co.

Created Date
1858

Record of Carlos de Zaldo, who contracted Chinese settlers to move to Cuba to work. He worked with Ferran, Dupierris y Co.

Created Date
1858

Record of Luis Susim, who contracted Chinese settlers to move to Cuba to work. He worked with Ferran, Dupierris y Co and Carlos de Zaldo.

Created Date
1858

Records of business deals between the United Asian Colonization and Ferran, Dupierris y Co, concerning the importation of Chinese settlers to Cuba.

Created Date
1858

Records of business deals for the Settlement Commission, the United Asiatic Colonization, and La Positiva. La Positiva became La Alianza under Marcial Dupierris.

Created Date
1859-04-08

Relates that Jose, a Chinese settler, was granted permanent residency in Cuba after fulfilling the legal requirements.

Created Date
1863-09-10

Relates that the civil government regulated the ability of Chinese settlers to marry. If they possessed a cedula, or identity record (meaning they were legally employed in Cuba, but had not yet become a permanent resident), they needed permission to marry anyone who was considered to be of a different race. Chinese settlers could only marry other Chinese settlers without permission

Created Date
1864-08-04

An identity card, or cedula, for Pedro. Pedro was twenty eight years old when this card was issued.

Created Date
1866

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.

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.

Report on the efforts of Manuel B. de Pereda to bring Chinese settlers to Cuba to work, mostly to work on the Villoldo Wardrop y Co project.

Created Date
1853-10-18

A letter detailing the efforts of Villoldo Wardrop's project and the hiring of Chinese settlers for that project from Manuel B. de Pereda. 3000 settlers were contracted to work on the project.

Created Date
1832-05-23

A letter detailing the efforts of Villoldo Wardrop's project and the hiring of Chinese settlers for that project from Manuel B. de Pereda. Several settlers were contracted to work on the project.

Created Date
1852-03-23

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.

Created Date
1851-12-19

Relates that Ramon, a Chinese settler, was granted permanent residency in Cuba after fulfilling the legal requirements. He completed an eight year contract with Ruigo Medina y Co.

Created Date
1866-02-08

Records pertaining to the right of a company to not pay for the burial of their employees if they die while contracted. The company in question is a railroad and has been solicited by the government concerning the case. The bishop of Matanzas supports that companies should not pay for burials because it is a church job.

Created Date
1868-07-09

Records of business deals of the Society of Troncaso Bustamante, specifically relating to their hiring practices and the ages of their settlers. Relates their illegal hiring of settlers under the age of 14. Article 8 of the laws concerning the hiring of Chinese settlers stated that the hiring of people under the age of 14 was illegal. The ages were left blank on their contracts.

Created Date
1860-10-07

Records of business deals of the Society of Bustamante y Froncaso, specifically relating to their hiring practices and how many companies would rehire or share their Chinese settlers.

Created Date
1860-08-21

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.

Records of business deals of the Society of Troncaso Bustamante, specifically relating to their hiring practices and the ages of their settlers. Relates their illegal hiring of settlers under the age of 14. Article 8 of the laws concerning the hiring of Chinese settlers stated that the hiring of people under the age of 14 was illegal.

Created Date
1860-09-07

Justino Campbell transferred his contracts with several Chinese settlers in Cardenas and Matanzas to the Superior Civil Government so that these workers may obtain their cedulas or personal identity cards.

Created Date
1861-05-08

A letter to the judge of the District of Prado concerning Pedro Amador, a Chinese settler, as the judge investigates Pedro Amador's past records. He was originally from Canton, but was working in Havana. Bernardo certified that Pedro Amador appeared to complete a previous work contract.

Created Date
1886

Records of business deals of the Society of Bustamante y Froncaso, specifically relating to their contracts and hiring practices concerning Chinese settlers.

Created Date
1860

Certifies that Lee, a Chinese settler, completed an eight-year-contract with his employer, Roque de Lara. He was originally from Chasig-Chu in China and fulfilled all of the legal requirements for permanent residency.

Created Date
1861

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

Documents pertaining to the hiring of Chinese settlers by the sugar factory, Carmelita, owned by Rita Barbaria de Lara.

Created Date
1861

Joribio, a Chinese settler, fulfilled a contract with Pablo Hernandez. Jose Hernandez recommended that Joribio 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 Joribio always exhibited good conduct and behavior.

Created Date
1863

Certifies that Joribio, a Chinese settler, completed an eight-year-contract with his employer, Miguel Pablo Hernandez de la Cruz.

Created Date
1863

Joribio Padron, a Chinese settler, fulfilled a contract with Juan Diez. Diez recommended that Joribio 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 Joribio always exhibited good conduct and behavior.

Created Date
1873-10-16

A contract between Higinio Crispin, a Chinese immigrant, and Vicente Vega. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Higinio was originally from Canton. Noted Higinio completed a contract with Jacinto Larrinago previously. Signed by Vicente Vega and Higinio.

Created Date
1868-05-27

A contract between Polomo O. Avoin, a Chinese immigrant, and Jose Armiros. Noted Polomo completed a contract with Calvo previously. Signed by Jose Quivos, Jose Mendez, Jose Armiros, and Polomo, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1870-12-08

Certifies that several Chinese settlers completed contracts with the Military Path of Este.

Created Date
1873

Details the commercial activity of Manuel Pereda and his involvement with the importation of Chinese settlers to Cuba to work as indentured servants from 1854 to 1855.

Created Date
1856

This is a rehire request for Bernardo, a Chinese settler, and Amado, a Chinese landowner.

Created Date
1871

Benigno, a Chinese settler, completed a contact with Antonio Handruga and was seeking to sign a new labor contract with his original owner.

Created Date
1872

Relates that an unnamed Chinese settler was granted permanent residency in Cuba after fulfilling the legal requirements.

Created Date
1873

A contract between Chey, a Chinese settler, and Ignacio F. de Castro, the agent of Manuel Pereda. Manuel Pereda was to bring Chey from China to Cuba to work and the contract lists the legal requirements of both the settler and the patron. Chey was originally from Tokein. Signed by Ignacio F. de Castro and Chey, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1855

Records for the ship Encarnacion, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Marino Gillado. On this trip, Encarnacion brought twenty settlers from China to work for Juan Vermay.

Created Date
1865-03-22

A contract issued by Cafeteria Wakamba S. A. It stated that the money saved in the company could be drawn by three persons only. And when two of them agreed to draw the money, then they might draw the money successfully.

Contributors
翁, 恳芳
Created Date
1961

A contract between Nicasio, a Chinese settler, and Jose Romero. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Nicasio did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him.

Created Date
1866

Contract between Aurelio, a Chinese settler, and Antonio Elena, a Cuban landowner. This contract was for one year and is signed by Antonio Elena, the governor of Cuba, and Aurelio. Aurelio signed in Chinese. 1868.

Created Date
1868

Contract of Marcelo, a Chinese settler, for one year. 1868.

Created Date
1868

Contract between Agustin Soatao, a Chinese settler, and his owner, Juan Cabranes, for one year. Signed July 2, 1866.

Created Date
1866

A contract between Santiago, a Chinese settler, and Julian Aranga. The contract to last for one year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by Julian Aranga, Benardo Martinez, and Santiago, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1866

Contract between Damian, a Chinese settler, and his owner, Julian Frango, to last one year. April 4, 1866.

Created Date
1866

A contract between Telechino, a Chinese settler, and Jose Gomez Rochel. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by Jose Gomez Rochel and Telechino, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1866

A contract between Anselmo, a Chinese settler and Jose Romero. The contract was to last for one year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by the governor of Colon, Joaquin, and Anselmo, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1866

A contract between Lomas, a Chinese settler, and Julian Arango. The contract was to last for one year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by the governor of Cuba, Julian Arango, and Lomas, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1867

Contract between Homero, a Chinese settler, and I. Smith, a landowner, for a year of work on his farm. Signed January 6, 1867.

Created Date
1867

A contract between Nicolas, a Chinese settler, and Ramon and Carlos Jonts. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by Ramon, Carlos Jonts, and Nicolas, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1868

A contract between Juan Aden, a Chinese settler and Paulino Ligarrela. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Juan completed a contract with Gabriel Gomez previously. Signed by Paulino Ligarrela and Juan, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1868

A contract between Teofilo, a Chinese settler, and Ramon Fuentes. The contract was to last for one year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by the governor of Cuba, Ramon Fuentes, and Teofilo, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1868

A contract between Vicente, a Chinese settler, and Manuel Guyarro. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Vicente completed a contract with Manuel Guyarro previously. Signed by Manuel Guyarro and Vicente, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1868

A contract between Evanito and Jacobo Varela. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by Jacobo Varela and Evanito, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1868

A contract between Lacorios, a Chinese settler and Felipe Macau. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by Felipe Macau, the governor of Cuba and Lacorios, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1866

Contract between Leandro, a Chinese settler, and Lorenzo Puán, for one year.

Created Date
1866

This is a contract between Listo, a Chinese settler, and Vicente Vega for one year. 1868. Signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1868

This is a contract between Bartolo, a Chinese settler, and his owner in Colon. 1866.

Created Date
1866

Letters pertaining to contracted Chinese workers that arrived on the frigate, Bremena, in 1861 and their treatment since they left China, including the treatment of diseases and overall injustices.

Created Date
1861

A Chinese settler asks for release from his contract by paying the cost of his hire.

Created Date
1858

This was a request written on the behalf of Eloy- a Chinese settler, who having just won 1,000 pesos in a lottery was seeking to buy out his eight year contract with D. Joaquin Garcia Anguerica for the 219 pesos needed to do so. The request spurred a lot of conversation between Spanish officials in Cuba about whether or not Eloy's request could legally be granted; there were concerns about his minor status and about some contradictions between articles 27 and 28 of the cedulas, and the seventh clause within the contracts. Ultimately, Eloy's request was not granted.

Created Date
1858-02-12

This is a document hiring Chinese settlers for public work projects. Not dated.

Relates that Federico, a Chinese settler, was granted permanent residency in Cuba after fulfilling the legal requirements. He worked for the Gran Azucaria, a sugar cane producer.

Created Date
1867

This file includes several document. One of them is a contract written in both Spanish and Chinese. According to the contract, Xie Tian was willing to go to Cuba as a worker. So he was requested to sign the contract and should follow the rules listed on it.

Created Date
1865

A contract between Chan Jui, a Chinese settler, and R. Calderon, an agent for La Alianza. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Chan Jui did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him.

Created Date
1867

A contract between Lucas, a Chinese settler, and Manuel Betacourt. The contract was to last for eight years and lists the legal requirements for both the employee and the employer. Signed by the governor, Manuel Betacourt, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1868

These are the records of Jose Dolores, a Chinese settler brought from China to Cuba for work. The documents include handwritten contracts with various owners and recommendation letters, detailing his good behavior as a worker. His certificate of nationality is also included and was accepted by the governor of Cuba.

Created Date
1864

An identity card, or cedula, for Enrique. He was thirty one years old when this card was issued. He had a work contract with Y. S. de Castro and had completed a previous contract with the mining company, Comolidada.

Created Date
1865

A contract between, Low Li Yang, a Chinese settler, and B. Solares. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by B. Solares and Jose A. de Orbeta.

Created Date
1866

Chinese settler contract signed in Canton in 1866. Written is Castilian and Chinese. Visible defects. The Chinese, Liang Riquan was willing to go to Cuba as a worker. This contract was issued to him and he was requested to follow the instruction.

Contributors
粱, 日全
Created Date
1866

A contract between Zhu Nam, a Chinese settler, and Tuton y Hijo and agents of La Alianza. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Zhu Nam did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Tuton y Hijo. Also features contract in Chinese.

Created Date
1870

Death certificate for Mamerto, a Chinese settler, who died from injuries to his femur in Ingenio Santisima Trinidad. He worked for Mrs. Gabriel Garcia before his death and was buried in the cemetery of the Church of our Lady of Torque without having been baptized. His cedula, or identity card, is included and lists him as having worked for M.C. Blanca when he was given the cedula. He was brought from Macao to Cuba by Torrices, Puente and Company.

Created Date
1861

This is a letter requesting background information on the Chinese settler, Dupenio, and his past work in order to renew a contract. 1864

Created Date
1864

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

This is the second contract between Ramon, a Chinese settler, and Martin de Cardenas y Layas for the period of six months. This contract is undated and signed in Chinese.

Permission to enter the island of Cuba in a shipment of Chinese settlers in the English ship “Carpentaria”. Contractual printed in Chinese and Castilian.

A contract between Lini-Tsai, a Chinese settler, and an agent of Ygnacio Fernandez de Castro. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by Lini-Tsai, who signed in Chinese.

Contributors
亦, 在
Created Date
1855

A report on the results of Chinese immigration to Cuba, the average ages of these immigrants and what they have done since coming to Cuba. 1865.

Created Date
1865

This is an application for permanent residency for Pascual, a Chinese settler. It includes the settler's original contract signed in Macao, a letter of recommendation from a previous owner, stating that he had completed an eight year contract, his cedula or identity card, and a certificate of baptism.

Created Date
1865

Records for the ships Solide of Dieppe, Bitty Sriapera, and Messenger, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with various employers. On this trip, the Solide of Dieppe brought 184 settlers from China to work for ___.

Created Date
1860-05-24

A contract between Lattae, a Chinese settler, and La Alianza. 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 this contract was transferred to Jose M. Also featured in Chinese.

Created Date
1867

Laws pertaining to the legal rights of of landowners living in a certain area and their obligations. This includes how owners are supposed to write their contracts with their Chinese workers, including informing them of their payment and the terms of their contracts.

Created Date
1886

This is a list of Chinese settlers who were imprisoned in a particular jail from April to August 1858 in Cienfuegos for running away from their masters and breaking their contracts. These runaways are referred to as "maroons". One was reported as requiring a stay in the hospital while five others were returned to their owners.

Created Date
1858

Relates that Roque, a Chinese settler, was granted permanent residency in Cuba after fulfilling the legal requirements.

Created Date
1863-09-09

This is a first contract that was signed by Jang, a Chinese settler, in which he agreed to leave China and travel to Cuba to work as an indentured servant for eight years. He signed his contract with Ignacio-Fernandez de Castro of Cadiz.

Created Date
1853-01-11

A contract between Vong Cari, a Chinese settler, and Tanco Armero, the agent for Limbillo, Montalvo, y Co. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements for both the employee and the employer. Vong Cari did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by N. Tanco Armero and J. de Agustin.

Created Date
1867-09-30

A contract between Lin Kun Mui or Manuel, a Chinese settler, and R. Calderon, the agent of La Alianza y Co. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes the contract was transferred to Jose Manuel Palla. Lin Kun Mui did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him.

Created Date
1867-03-18

A contract between Tong-Atac, a Chinese settler, and H. de Closmadeuc and Campbell y Co. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Also features the contract in Chinese.

Contributors
冯, 口得
Created Date
1860-11-19

A contract between Jose Leon, a Chinese settler, and Jose Quintera. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer.

Created Date
1870

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

Created Date
1871

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 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