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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.

Quentin Madan, a Chinese settler, converted to Christianity in the Church of Our Lady of the Ascension. Madan was originally from Canton. In his baptism, Madan offered his loyalty to the Cuban government and the church in order to eventually receive permanent residency in Cuba, a legal requirement. His godfather was Cristoval Madan and this form was signed by Manuel Miranda, priest of the Church of Our Lady of the Ascension. 1865.

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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

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This collection of personal documents that belonged to Ricardo, a Chinese settler, specifically his application for permanent residence in Cuba. The documents in this collection include his first contract, personal ID card, baptism certificate, and several "reviews" written by his past owners attesting to good conduct. The final document in this selection is a testimony of Ricardo's promise to abide by Cuban and Spanish laws; he signed it upon the approval of his request for permanent residence.

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This baptism certificate belonged to a Chinese settler named Leon-Joo, who had just been baptized and renamed Clemente Manuel when this record was written. Leon-Joo was 47 years old during this time, and had been residing in Cuba since 1847.

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