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.


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 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

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

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

Created Date
1863-09-09

This collection of personal documents that belonged to Ricardo, a Chinese settler, specifically his application for permanent residence in Cuba. The documents in this collection include his first contract, personal ID card, baptism certificate, and several "reviews" written by his past owners attesting to good conduct. The final document in this selection is a testimony of Ricardo's promise to abide by Cuban and Spanish laws; he signed it upon the approval of his request for permanent residence.

Created Date
1863-10-10

A contract between San Kim or Fernando Guerra, a Chinese settler, and an agent of Ignacio 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 Al MacKay and San Kim, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1854-06-05

This compilation of personal documents that belonged to Eustaquio- a Chinese settler, formed his application packet for his permanent residence card in Cuba. Included in the collection are his baptism certificate, his personal ID card, and his original first contract, among several other documents. The first page of this selection contains the written request for Eustaquio's permanent residence, and the last passage in the final page explains that his request was accepted. 1863

Created Date
1863-09-16

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

5.Application Documents "Letter Home" (permanent residence on the island of Cuba) 1865. Contains: Identity card of Chinese settlers, legalized with a police seal; letter of recommendation from the owner certifying that fulfilled his contract of 8 years; Chinese settlers statements; Government contract Guanabacoa, have working conditions

Created Date
1865

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