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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
1832 1992


This is a story about a rich lady Josephine and her daily life.

A letter to the Secretary of the Government of Cuba requesting naturalization of a Chinese settler, Leonardo Valdez. He was originally from Canton, but promises to renounce his rights as a citizen of China if he is make a Cuban citizen. Included are records of his past work contracts and letters of recommendation from past employers.

Created Date
1873

Record with multiple documents about a Chinese settler including christening record; labor-hire document; successful completion of term-contract certification; certificate of good conduct; and other documents

Created Date
1866

Application for permanent residence in Cuba for a Chinese settler, Roman. Included are his baptism certificate, a work contract and a request to be rehired, and several recommendations from the owners of the Sugar Refinery of Carmen.

Created Date
1865

These are the records of Jose Dolores, a Chinese settler brought from China to Cuba for work. The documents include handwritten contracts with various owners and recommendation letters, detailing his good behavior as a worker. His certificate of nationality is also included and was accepted by the governor of Cuba.

Created Date
1864

Application documents “Letter Home” (permanent residence on the island of Cuba) 1868. Contains: signed application documents in Chinese; certificate of baptism of the Catholic Church; Chinese settler contract in the city of Cardenas; several letters of recommendation from several owner certifying that their contracts fulfilled without problems

Created Date
1868

Application documents “Letter Home” (permanent residence on the island of Cuba) 1866. Contains: letters of recommendation from the owner certifying that fulfilled his contract of 8 years; Chinese settler contract in the city of Cardenas; identity card of Chinese settlers, legalized with a police seal; original contract written in Chinese and Castilian, Swaton 1857; identity card of Chinese settlers; other documents

Created Date
1857

5.Application Documents "Letter Home" (permanent residence on the island of Cuba) 1865. Contains: Identity card of Chinese settlers, legalized with a police seal; letter of recommendation from the owner certifying that fulfilled his contract of 8 years; Chinese settlers statements; Government contract Guanabacoa, have working conditions

Created Date
1865

This is an application for permanent residency for Pascual, a Chinese settler. It includes the settler's original contract signed in Macao, a letter of recommendation from a previous owner, stating that he had completed an eight year contract, his cedula or identity card, and a certificate of baptism.

Created Date
1865

This file includes several document. One of them is a contract written in both Spanish and Chinese. According to the contract, Xie Tian was willing to go to Cuba as a worker. So he was requested to sign the contract and should follow the rules listed on it.

Created Date
1865

Ancate, a Chinese settler, converted to Christianity. He was contracted by Felix Garcia y Co and chose the name Francisco.

Created Date
1865-06-11

Jose, a Chinese settler, converted to Christianity. He was contracted by Francisco Morales and was baptized in the Church of Cerro. His godfather was Jose Molina.

Created Date
1860-12-02

This baptism certificate belonged to Acuam Jo, a Chinese settler, who upon being baptized was renamed Juan Bautista. Acuam Jo was originally from Canton in China, and arrived in Cuba as an indentured servant in May of the year 1853. His original owner for his first eight year labor contract was a man named Juan de Dios Gonzalez. During the time that he was baptized and this certificate was written, Acuam Jo was in the process of completing a second contract with Jose Barrera in public works. 1864

Created Date
1864-09-13

This document served to record personal details regarding Join Achain- a Chinese settler, who had just been baptized and renamed Jose. Originally from Yoncon in China, Jose began serving his eight year term as a contracted indentured servant on January 15, 1859. Jose Moneo y Delgado, the man who wrote this document, was Jose's contract owner and godfather for baptism.

Created Date
1859

A blank contract for employees working with agents Mariano del Pielago and Merino Gelledo. It has two language versions: Spanish and Chinese. It indicates the instructions that the employees should follow.

Documents pertaining to the hiring of Chinese settlers by the sugar factory, Carmelita, owned by Rita Barbaria de Lara.

Created Date
1861

Documents pertaining to the hiring of Chinese settlers by Carmelita, the sugar factory owned by Rita Barbaria de Lara in Guanabana. These workers were hired for a eight year contract.

Created Date
1852

Record of business deal for Benigno Gonzalez Alvarez with the Society of Asian Colonization concerning the importation of Chinese settlers to Cuba to work.

Created Date
1860-05-19

Record of business deal for Benigno Gonzalez Alvarez with the Society of Asian Colonization concerning the importation of Chinese settlers to Cuba to work.

Created Date
1860-05-09

Record of business deal for Cayetano Corazion and Luis Lusini with the Society of Asian Colonization concerning the importation of Chinese settlers to Cuba to work.

Created Date
1860-03-31

Record of business deal for Benigno Gonzalez Alvarez and Luis Lusini with the Society of Asian Colonization concerning the importation of Chinese settlers to Cuba to work.

Created Date
1855-01-30

Record of business deal for Cayetano and Luis Lusini with the Society of Asian Colonization concerning the importation of Chinese settlers to Cuba to work.

Created Date
1855-01-30

Record of Carlos de Zaldo, who contracted Chinese settlers to move to Cuba to work. He worked with Ferran, Dupierris y Co.

Created Date
1858

Record of Carlos de Zaldo, who contracted Chinese settlers to move to Cuba to work. He worked with Ferran, Dupierris y Co.

Created Date
1858

Record of Carlos de Zaldo, who contracted Chinese settlers to move to Cuba to work. He worked with Ferran, Dupierris y Co.

Created Date
1858

Record of Luis Susim, who contracted Chinese settlers to move to Cuba to work. He worked with Ferran, Dupierris y Co and Carlos de Zaldo.

Created Date
1858

Records of business deals between the United Asian Colonization and Ferran, Dupierris y Co, concerning the importation of Chinese settlers to Cuba.

Created Date
1858

Records of business deals for the Settlement Commission, the United Asiatic Colonization, and La Positiva. La Positiva became La Alianza under Marcial Dupierris.

Created Date
1859-04-08

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

Records of business deals between Troncaso, Bustamanta y Co and other companies, specifically relating to the contracting of Chinese workers or moving settlers from the employment of one company to another. Many of these settlers were between 19 and 40 years of age.

Created Date
1860

Records of business deals of the Society of Troncaso Bustamante, specifically relating to their hiring practices and the ages of their settlers. Relates their illegal hiring of settlers under the age of 14. Article 8 of the laws concerning the hiring of Chinese settlers stated that the hiring of people under the age of 14 was illegal. The ages were left blank on their contracts.

Created Date
1860-10-07

Records of business deals of the Society of Troncaso Bustamante, specifically relating to their hiring practices and the ages of their settlers. Relates their illegal hiring of settlers under the age of 14. Article 8 of the laws concerning the hiring of Chinese settlers stated that the hiring of people under the age of 14 was illegal.

Created Date
1860-12-29

Records of business deals of the Society of Troncaso Bustamante, specifically relating to their hiring practices and the ages of their settlers. Relates their illegal hiring of settlers under the age of 14. Article 8 of the laws concerning the hiring of Chinese settlers stated that the hiring of people under the age of 14 was illegal.

Created Date
1860-12-29

Records of business deals of the Society of Bustamante y Froncaso, specifically relating to their hiring practices and how many companies would rehire or share their Chinese settlers.

Created Date
1860-08-21

Records of business deals of the Society of Troncaso Bustamante, specifically relating to their hiring practices and the ages of their settlers. Relates their illegal hiring of settlers under the age of 14. Article 8 of the laws concerning the hiring of Chinese settlers stated that the hiring of people under the age of 14 was illegal.

Created Date
1860-09-07

This is a cedula, or an ID card, that belonged to a Chinese settler named Dionisio. Dionisio was brought to Cuba by la Compania and was then contracted to M. del Cobre. 1865.

Created Date
1865

This is a neighborhood identity card (cedula) that belonged to a Chinese settler in Cuba. When this cedula was issued, the settler was 27 years old, a fieldworker, and in the process of completing his initial eight year labor contract as an indentured servant. The names of some of his contract owners are also listed on the cedula. Havana, 1861.

Created Date
1861-11-02

This is a cedula or ID card for Joaquin, a Chinese settler, in 1865, listing how long he had been living in Cuba. He was hired for eight years by the Society of Immigration and contracted to a mining company.

Created Date
1865

This is a neighborhood identity card (cedula) that belonged to Guan- a Chinese settler. Details included in the ID include his age, the type of work he did (domestic service), and information about his contract owners and their address.

Created Date
1861-01-02

This is a neighborhood identity card (cedula) that belonged to a Chinese settler named Paulino. At the time that this ID was issued for him, Paulino was 32 years old, and in the process of completing his eight year labor contract as an indentured servant.

Created Date
1865

This is a cedula, or identity card, that belonged to a Chinese settler named Listo. At the time that this cedula was issued for him, Listo was 29 years old, and in the process of completing an eight year labor contract with Jose Aranguren. 1865.

Created Date
1865

This is a neighborhood identity card (cedula) that belonged to Francisco- a Chinese settler, who was 33 years old, and in the process of completing his eight year labor contract as an indentured servant working for a railroad company at the time that the ID card was issued. 1864.

Created Date
1864

This is an identity card, known as a cedula, that was issued for a Chinese settler named Lucas. At the time that this cedula was assigned to Lucas, he was 29 years old, and in the process of completing his eight year contract as an indentured servant. The names of two of his past landlords and his current one were listed on the cedula. Originally, when he arrived in Cuba, his contract had been transferred to M. B. Pereda who then transferred the contract to Juan Peyra. Jose M. Criado was Lucas's present owner at the time that this cedula ...

Created Date
1864-12-16

The cedula or an identity record for a Chinese settler, Francisco. He was brought from Soltero, China to Cuba to work for M. B. Pereda for eight years. Then, his contract was transfered to R. A. Leull for an additional eight years. 1864

Created Date
1864

This is a monthly check for wages given to Chinese settlers by their owners. The wage amounts were stipulated in their labor contracts. 1863

Created Date
1863-09-30

This collection of documents pertains to the discovery of an illegal Chinese lottery in the home of a Chinese settler, and the ensuing investigation to determine the culprits and amass sufficient evidence against them to determine an appropriate punishment for the crime. An index was provided at the beginning of the packet to outline the various testimonies, minutes, evidence, and sentence included in the packet. Antonio Alli and Jose Alem were the two Chinese settlers who were charged with organizing the Chinese lottery and distributing the lottery ballots. The first document proceeding the index page is the testimony that was ...

Created Date
1886-01-27

A complaint filed by Francisco Orta in the name of three Chinese settlers, Francisco, Manuel, and Pablo concerning their contracts.

Created Date
1861

A complaint filed by several Chinese settlers concerning their contracts.

Created Date
1870

Records multiple documents that identify abuses on the Chinese settlers at the sugar plantation “San Laureano” in 1861 by Antonio Benitez, the owner of the planation. An investigation by the commission charged with looking into the complaints confirms that the workers were not paid the amount stated in their contracts. Letters signed by Julio Martina, a government agent.

Created Date
1861-12-27

Report of 23 Chinese settlers who breached their contracts with its owner Francisco Ferrer Calleja, Sugar Mill owner "Ojo de Agua". They ran away from Francisco Ferrer Calleja.

Created Date
1869