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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.


Fernando, a Chinese settler, converted to Christianity. In his baptism, he offered his loyalty to the Cuban government and the church in order to eventually receive permanent residency in Cuba, a legal requirement.

Created Date
1863-09-16

Certifies that Simon Perez, a Chinese settler, completed an eight-year-contract with his employer, the Sugar Refinery de Carmen.

Created Date
1866-08-28

Reports the concerns of Catholic leaders about the idolatry and cult groups forming among converted Chinese settlers.

Created Date
1866-11-06

Document pertaining to Chinese settlers converting to Catholicism and adopting what missionaries considered "appropriate" morals and habits in their Catholic faith.

Created Date
1866-06-18

Relates that the civil government regulated the ability of Chinese settlers to marry. If they possessed a cedula, or identity record (meaning they were legally employed in Cuba, but had not yet become a permanent resident), they needed permission to marry anyone who was considered to be of a different race. Chinese settlers could only marry other Chinese settlers without permission

Relates that Leonardo Sanchez, a permanent resident of Cuba and a baptized Catholic, married Marcelina Diaz. She was born in Matanzas and they had two daughters, who were both baptized and registered in the book for those of European descent in their parish church. Report concerns whether or not their children, who were of "mixed race," could be considered white, determined by which book their baptisms are recorded in. Churches would use different books for Europeans, whites, and minorities.

Created Date
1864-04-28

Relates that Leonardo Sanchez, a permanent resident of Cuba and a baptized Catholic, married Marcelina Diaz. She was born in Matanzas and they had two daughters, who were both baptized and registered in the book for those of European descent in their parish church. Report concerns whether or not their children, who were of "mixed race," could be considered white, determined by which book their baptisms are recorded in. Churches would use different books for Europeans, whites, and minorities.

Created Date
1864-02-29

Official naturalization document of Simon, a Chinese settler, who was granted his carta de naturaleza, or naturalization documents. Relates that Simon had take an oath of loyalty and obedience to the Cuban government that was required of him.

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

Created Date
1863-10-10

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

Created Date
1863-10-09