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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
1855 1878


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 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

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

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 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 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 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 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

An identity card, or cedula, for Simon. Simon was twenty-three years old when this card was issued. He had a contract with Jose Maria Criado. Simon had begun his eight year contract with D. RR Torres, but his contract had been ceded to Jose Maria Criado.

Created Date
1864-12-16

This is a neighborhood identity card (cedula) that belonged to a Chinese settler in Cuba. When this cedula was issued, the settler was 27 years old, a fieldworker, and in the process of completing his initial eight year labor contract as an indentured servant. The names of some of his contract owners are also listed on the cedula. Havana, 1861.

Created Date
1861-11-02