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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 1871


A contract between Timoteo, a Chinese settler, and Manuel Paredes. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by the governor, Manuel Paredes, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1869-10-12

List of workers who were recently hired by various employers. It lists the name of the employer or company, the name of the settler and their personal details.

Created Date
1862

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

A contract between Chung, a Chinese settler, and R. Calderon, an agent for La Alianza. La Alianza brought Chung from China to Cuba to work. He was to be hired by another employer upon arrival.

Contributors
鍾, 大嬌
Created Date
1867

A letter to the Brigadier General Governor concerning the permanent residency of Saturnina, a Chinese settler who completed her eight year control with Marques Duqueme. Her contract, in Spanish and Chinese, is also included. 1855.

Contributors
林, 贵
Created Date
1855

Documents the arrival of Chinese settlers working for Rafael Morales y Monetenegro.

Created Date
1859

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

This is a second labor contract that was shared between Sabel, a Chinese settler, and his owner, Ramon Recio de Oguendo. Sabel was brought to Cuba from China to serve as an indentured servant and the term of the contract was for one year, in which Sabel was hired to do fieldwork. Details regarding Sabel's wage, food, and clothes that would be provided to him by Ramon Recio de Oguendo as well as the work hours required of him were stipulated in the document. 1867. Signed the governor, Ramon Recio de Oguendo, and in Chinese by Sabel,.

Created Date
1867-01-06

A contract between Marcos, a Chinese settler, and Jose Gomez. 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 was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Marcos did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him.

Created Date
1866-04-05

A contract between Critobal, a Chinese immigrant, and Serafin Gomez. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Cristobal completed a contract with Felipe Mulhice. Cristobal was originally from Canton. Signed by Serafin Gomez, the governor, and Cristobal, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1866-05-20

A contract between Victor Jatu, a Chinese immigrant, and Pedro Chacon in Guanajay. Signed by the governor, Romero, Victor Jatu, and Pedro Chacon. Pedro signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1869-07-20

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

A recommendation letter from an unnamed employer concerning the Chinese settlers he employed and their permanent residency status.

Created Date
1861

Lee, a Chinese settler, fulfilled an eight year contract with Roque de Lara. Lara recommended that Lee be given permanent residency in Cuba because he met the legal requirements of completing an eight year contract with one employer, fulfilling the legal requirements for permanent residency. The letter also states that Lee always exhibited good conduct and behavior.

Created Date
1861

Lee, a Chinese settler, fulfilled an eight year contract with Agustin. Agustin recommended that Lee be given permanent residency in Cuba because he met the legal requirements of completing an eight year contract with one employer, fulfilling the legal requirements for permanent residency. The letter also states that Lee always exhibited good conduct and behavior.

Created Date
1861-06-27

Lee, a Chinese settler, fulfilled a contract with Roque de Lara. Lara recommended that Lee 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 Lee always exhibited good conduct and behavior.

Created Date
1861

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 Justo, a Chinese settler, completed an eight-year-contract with his employer, Jose de Cannabaco who owned a business.

Created Date
1860

Certifies that Valentin, a Chinese settler, completed an eight-year-contract with his employer. He was eventually granted permanent residency after fulfilling the legal requirements.

Created Date
1871

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.

Certifies that Lei, a Chinese settler, completed an eight-year-contract with his employer. He was eventually granted permanent residency after fulfilling the legal requirements.

Created Date
1861-06-19

Certifies that Lee, a Chinese settler, completed an eight-year-contract with his employer, Roque de Lara. He was eventually granted permanent residency after fulfilling the legal requirements.

Created Date
1861-07-02

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

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 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
1860-02-04

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 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.

Created Date
1867-10-14

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.

Created Date
1867-12-16

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 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.

Created Date
1868-05-09

A contract between Ventura, a Chinese settler, and Jose Ruiz. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Ventura completed a contract with La Panchita previously. Signed by Jose Ruiz and Ventura, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1866