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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.

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.

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