Skip to main content

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 letter from Jose Vicente Jorge. It details the efforts Spain and the Royal Government took to encourage immigration to the Americas in general, with a special focus on the Chinese immigrating to Cuba. He specifically mentions a ship that was contracted to bring settlers to Cuba: the Viajante. Jose Vicente Jorge was the Knight Commander of the Order of Christ formed by Isabella, the Catholic.

Created Date
1853-01-10

Records for the ship Flora, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Torices, Puente y Co. On this trip, the Flora brought 589 settlers from China to work. The ship was captained by Lafontaine.

Created Date
1866-06-21

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 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
1860-12-29

Records for the ship Carmencita, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Troncaso Bustamante. 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
1860-08-24

Records for the ship Carmencita, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Troncaso Bustamante. The ship stopped in Manila before going to Cuba. The ship was captained by Captain Garcia. Also records the 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
1860-08-24

Records indicating that the chief of police had a meeting with the Governor to discuss new laws that affect the employers of Chinese settlers and the granting of permanent residency to those settlers. The settlers had to fulfill certain requirements, usually with concerns to their jobs, religion, and moral conduct, in order to gain permanent residency. The police were charged with removing any settlers who did not maintain jobs or contracts with their employers before or after being granted permanent residency.

Created Date
1861-06-18

Letter to the governor from Diez, discussing the legal requirements for Chinese settlers to be granted permanent residency in Cuba. Mentions that most settlers, after completing an eight year contract and being granted residency, preferred to enter into more contracts rather than seek work separately. Also discusses the abuses by employers who break their contracts with Chinese settlers.

Created Date
1861

A letter detailing the changes to laws concerning Chinese settlers and their legal rights as workers in Cuba. Settlers were not allowed to go more than two or three months without being under contract with an employer; otherwise they were considered vagrants. Once a contract has expired, the Chinese settler is considered to be liberated from the legal bounds of that contract and is free to enter into another with the same employer or another. The governor replied to the letter and formally adopted these laws into the legal code.

Created Date
1861

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