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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
1851 1892


Several records identifying mistreatment of Chinese settlers aboard the Bremen “Fides”. It contains the testimony of three Chinese settlers.

Created Date
1861

A contract between Mae Asan or Jose Yris, a Chinese settler, and the agent of Ignacio Fernandez de Castro. The contract was to last for a disclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Yris was to be brought aboard to Viajante. He was originally from Chen-Chuin. The contract was later transferred to Manuel B. a Pereda in Havana. Signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1859-04-02

Permission to enter the island of Cuba in a shipment of Chinese settlers in the English ship “Carpentaria”. Contractual printed in Chinese and Castilian.

Record of the investigation initiated by the death of 54 Chinese settlers on their way to Cuba in the Spanish ship “Juan” in 1873. The investigators complied a list of the dead Chinese settlers and the location (latitude and longitude) and date of their deaths. In their investigation, the investigators questioned the captain, the ship's pilot, the sailors, the ship doctor and some Chinese settlers with the help of a translator.

Created Date
1873

Record of the investigation initiated by the death of 84 Chinese settlers on their way to Cuba in the French ship “Guantanamo” in 1868. is: list of dead Chinese settlers killed by the location (latitude and longitude), date; research (appointment of scribe, translator; questions and answers from the captain; questions and answers from the pilot; questions and answers of several sailors; questions and answers of the translator; questions and answers from the Chinese translator; questions and answers from the ship’s doctor; questions and answers of some Chinese settlers.

Created Date
1868

Investigation of the origin of Francisco Macao, a Chinese settler who has escaped form his owner and later captured. He is imprisoned in the Depot of Cimarones in Bejucal.

Created Date
1870

Record of the investigation initiated by the deaths of 53 Chinese settlers on their way to Cuba in the Spanish ship “Amboto”.

Created Date
1873

A letter from C. J. Vallin to the governor. It details the arrival of a ship in Havana's harbor and the examination of the Chinese settlers onboard. The Administration of Sanity was satisfied with their health.

A letter from an unnamed man to the Governor of the Plaza. It details workers who escaped from the ship, Cora and were recaptured.

Created Date
1875

A letter from the State Ministry to the the Governor General of Cuba. It details a meeting between Spanish delegates and the Chinese government concerning the immigration of Chinese settlers to Cuba. After negotiations, both agreed that the legal provisions of the agreement need to be followed. The exact details of this agreement are not stated.

Created Date
1875