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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.


This is the first labor contract that was shared between a Chinese settler named Leopoldo, and his owner, Felipe Macau, presumably a freed Chinese settler. Leopoldo had already completed a contract with Joaquin Tiago. He was brought from Canton to Cuba to work as an indentured servant in Soltero. The term of the contract with Don Felipe was for six months. 1866. Signed in Chinese by Leopoldo.

Created Date
1866-05-20

This is the first labor contract that between a Chinese settler named Eleuterio, also known as Santiago, and his owner, Don Juan. The term of the contract was for one year. This document is signed by the governor of Colon, Don Juan and Eleuterio. 1867.

Created Date
1867-01-06

A contract between Felix, a Chinese settler, and Jose Gomez y Rochet. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Felix completed a contract with Jose Gomez previously. Felix did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Jose Gomez.

Created Date
1866

This is the first contract between Napoleon, a Chinese settler, and Juan Smith, his owner for the term of one year of work in Colon.

Created Date
1867

A contract between Atanacio, a Chinese settler and Juan Becio. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by the governor, Juan Becio, and Atanacio, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1867