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.


Date Range
1855 1871


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

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 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

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

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

Created Date
1859

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

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.

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

Created Date
1861

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

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