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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.


Mime Type
  • application/pdf
Date Range
1854 1964


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

Records indicating that the courts requested paperwork and information on Pedro o Poncho, a Chinese settler, from the Chinese Consul in Havana. He was originally from Canton. He ran away from his employer, was captured, and held in the Deposit of Runaways.

Created Date
1870-10-14

Describes the actions of the District Attorney in Havana to prosecute Chinese settlers caught dealing in illegal Chinese lotteries, especially the lottery "Chiffa." Pedro Amador was prosecuted in relation to the Chiffa case.

Created Date
1886

Records indicating that the courts requested paperwork and information on Chinese settlers associated with Chiffe, an illegal Chinese lottery. The court requested that Chinese Consulate in Havana sent for translators for the settlers.

Created Date
1886-02-18

Records indicating that the courts requested paperwork and information on a Chinese settler who is accused of theft and murder. His baptism certificate was requested from the Chinese Consul in Havana.

Created Date
1889

Records pertaining to the right of a company to not pay for the burial of their employees if they die while contracted. The court ruling does mention that many settlers are poor and that the parish has struggled to find resources to help the poor, but that the bishop did not help the parishes. The Deposit of Immigrants has been persisting in changing public and legal perception of Chinese settlers as humans who have rights. However, companies are not legally obligated to fulfill a church job.

Created Date
1867

This is a request for a certificate of naturalization that was made by a Chinese settler named Agustin Cisneros. According to the handwritten request form (which begins on page six), Agustin had already been granted his carta de domicilio, or permanent residence card, five years prior to this request. The document also reveals that Agustin was married to a woman named Lorenza Pastor, had four children with his wife, had been baptized, and worked as a cook. The document proceeding the official request for naturalization is the death certificate of Lorenza Pastor, which was signed on September 14, 1871. The …

Created Date
1871-04-15

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

Prosecution of a group of Chinese settlers for running an illegal lottery. Police Officer Pablo Delgado discovered the lottery and details those involved, including a settler named Damien.

Created Date
1886

These letters detail investigations into illegal Chinese lotteries, including how the police should proceed and the names of people who were interviewed in the proceedings.

Created Date
1885