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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
1858 1899


An unnamed Chinese settler converted to Christianity in the city of Matanzas. They were originally from Canton. In their baptism, they offered their loyalty to the Cuban government and the church in order to eventually receive permanent residency in Cuba, a legal requirement. Candido Santa Olalla oversaw the baptism of this settler in the parish church of San Carlos in Matanzas.

Created Date
1874

Simon, a Chinese settler, converted to Christianity in the city of Matanzas. He was baptized by Sebastian Junena.

Created Date
1866-06-28

Atay or Cayetano, a Chinese settler, converted to Christianity in the city of Matanzas. 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
1871

Lucas, a Chinese settler, converted to Christianity in the city of Matanzas. 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
1868

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

Created Date
1861

The cedula or identity card for Belen Anchin, a Chinese immigrant working in Cuba. She lived in the province of Matanzas, in the town of Cidra. Originally from Canton. This card lists Belen Anchin's current profession and place of residence.

Created Date
1882-04-09

This is a Certificate of Nationality that belonged to Adolfo Abreu- a Chinese settler. The certificate served as a record indicating that Adolfo had been registered at the Consulate General of China in Cuba as a subject of the Emperor of China. According to the document, at the time it was issued Adolfo was 44 years old, single, a laborer, and considered a non-resident. He was from Canton in China, and lived in Matanzas in Cuba. Havana, 1884.

Created Date
1879-04-09

An identity card, or cedula, for Santiago Auy, originally from Canton. He was 26 years old when this card was issued.

Created Date
1880

This is a Cuban Certificate of Nationality that belonged to Camilo Chong. He was originally from Canton and is forty years old. He lived in Matanzas. 1884.

Created Date
1884-12-13

Certificate of nationality of a Chinese settler, Pedro Duarte. It was signed by the Consulate General. He was originally from Canton.

Created Date
1884-12-13

Certificate of nationality of a Chinese settler, Andres Afat. It was signed by the Consulate General. He was originally from Canton, but lived in Matanzas.

Created Date
1884-12-09

The certificate of nationality for Liborio who was from Canton and moved to Soltero to be an indentured servant.

Created Date
1884

Certificate of nationality of a Chinese settler, Adolfo Abreu. It was signed by the Consulate General. He was originally from Canton.

Created Date
1884-12-18

Certificate of nationality of a Chinese settler, Agustin Acosta. It was signed by the Consulate General. He was originally from Canton.

Created Date
1883-12-14

Certificate of nationality of a Chinese settler, Francisco Argudin. It was signed by the Consulate General. He was originally from Canton.

Created Date
1884-12-06

Certificate of nationality of a Chinese settler, Ambrosio Achin. It was signed by the Consulate General. He was originally from Canton.

Created Date
1884-12-13

This is a Certificate of Nationality that belonged to Diego Achin- a Chinese settler. The certificate served as a record indicating that Diego had been registered at the Consulate General of China in Cuba as a subject of the Emperor of China. According to the document, at the time it was issued Diego was 41 years old, single, and considered a non-resident. He was from Canton in China, and lived in Matanzas in Cuba. 1884

Created Date
1884-12-06

Certificate of nationality of a Chinese settler, Cirilo Torres. It was signed by the Consulate General. He was originally from Canton.

Created Date
1884

Certificate of nationality of a Chinese settler, Manuel Aton. It was signed by the Consulate General. He was originally from Canton.

Created Date
1884-12-10

This is a Certificate of Nationality that belonged to Adrian Achao- a Chinese settler. The certificate served as a record indicating that Adrian had been registered at the Consulate General of China in Cuba as a subject of the Emperor of China. According to the document, at the time it was issued Adrian was 45 years old, single, a laborer, and considered a non-resident. He was from Canton in China, and lived in Matanzas in Cuba. 1884.

Created Date
1884-12-10

This is a Certificate of Nationality that belonged to Adrian Achao- a Chinese settler. The certificate served as a record indicating that Adrian had been registered at the Consulate General of China in Cuba as a subject of the Emperor of China. According to the document, at the time it was issued Adrian was 45 years old, single, a laborer, and considered a non-resident. He was from Canton in China, and lived in Matanzas in Cuba. 1884.

Created Date
1884-12-18

Certifies that Justo, a Chinese settler, completed an eight-year-contract with his employer, Jose de Cannabaco who owned a business.

Created Date
1860

Certifies that Justo, a Chinese settler, completed an eight-year-contract with his employer, Miguel Armona. He was eventually granted permanent residency after fulfilling the legal requirements.

Created Date
1865

This contract is between Pedro, a Chinese settler, and Arcuna. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Pedro did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him.

Created Date
1870-01-15

A contract between Justo, a Chinese immigrant, and Gaspar Vinals. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements for both the employee and the employer. Justo did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Jose Lopes Francas, Manuel de la Fuente, and Gaspar Vinals.

Created Date
1871

A contract between Pablo, a Chinese settler, and Juan Hernandez. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements for both the employee and the employer. Noted that Pablo completed a contract with Juan Hernandez previously. Pablo did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Contract signed by Enrique Morales.

Created Date
1871

A contract between Melanio, a Chinese settler, and Juan Poey. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Melanio completed a contract with Juan Poey previously. Melanio did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Enrique Morales.

Created Date
1871

A contract between Fernando, a Chinese settler, and Jose de la Espinoza. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements for both the employee and the employer. Noted that Fernando completed a contract with Jose de la Espinoza previously. Signed by Enrique Morales.

Created Date
1871

A contract between Achung, a Chinese settler, and Juan Poey. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements for both the employee and the employer. Notes that Achung completed this contract and was granted a cedula or identity card a few years later. Achung did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him.

Created Date
1871

A contract between Fabian, a Chinese settler, and Juan Laudaluca. The contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Fabian completed a contract with Domingo y Gener previously. Fabian did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Juan de Laudalua.

Created Date
1877

A contract between Judas, a Chinese settler, and Manuel Bello. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Judas completed a contract with Manuel Bello previously. Signed by Manuel Bello, Jose Lopez Francais, and Judas, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1874

This is a second labor contract that was shared between Pablo or Juy Leng- a Chinese settler, and Gavino Hernandez- his new owner. The document was written and signed upon the completion of Pablo's first eight year contract with another owner. The term of this labor contract was for two years. Gavino Hernandez wrote on the back of the contract that Pablo seemed to be performing well in his duties. 1863. Signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1863-06-13

A contract between Camilo, a Chinese settler, and Ricardo Alfonso. The contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes Camila completed a contract with Ricardo Alfonso previously. Signed by Ricardo Alfonso, the Administrator, Señor Ramos, and Camilo, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1877-08-27

A contract between Patricio, a Chinese settler, and Joaquin Ruiz. The contract was to last for one year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Patricio completed a contract with Roque Corral previously. Signed by Joaquin Ruiz and Patricio, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1870-05-30

A contract between Jacinto, a Chinese settler, and Jose Olauo. The contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Jose Olauo wrote a letter of good conduct for a future employer. Signed by Jose Olauo and Jacinto, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1875-10-26

A contract between Juan, a Chinese settler, and Julian Garcia. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. He was originally from Canton. Noted he completed a contract with Jose Lopez Francesa previously. Juan did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Julian Garcia, the governor, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1863-08-27

A contract between Yldefonio, a Chinese settler, and Pedro Guibas. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Yldefonio was originally from Macao. Yldefonio did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Jose Lopez Francas, Guillermo Gomez, and Pedro Luibus.

Created Date
1865-07-05

A contract between Romualdo, a Chinese settler, and Francisco Garcia Rey. Notes that Romulado completed a contract with Francisco Garcia Rey previously. Romulado did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Francisco Garcia Rey

Created Date
1870-10-16

A contract between Joaquin, a Chinese settler, and Antonio Fernandez. The contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer.

Created Date
1863-02-11

A contract between Jose, a Chinese settler, and Manuel Gil. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted Jose was originally from Canton.

Created Date
1865-04-26

A contract between Marcelo, a Chinese settler, and Jose Landalica. The contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer.

Created Date
1867-02-17

A contract between Afat, a Chinese settler and Domingo E. Maelan. he contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Afat did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Domingo E. Maelan, the governor of Cuba, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1864

A contract between Blas, a Chinese settler, and Jose Basquet. The contract was to last for eight years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Blas completed a contract with Jose Basquet previously. Blas did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by the governor, two witnesses, and Jose Basquet.

Created Date
1871-05-06

A contract between Carlos, a Chinese settler, and Juan Lanalica. he contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Carlos did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by the governor, Juan Lanalica, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1867-02-17

This is a second labor contract that belonged to a Chinese settler named Leonio, and his owner, Felicito Perez; the term of this contract was for six months. 1867.

Created Date
1867-06-19

This is a second labor contract that was shared between Faustino- a Chinese settler, and his owner, Jose Serrate; the term of the contract was not specified. 1867.

Created Date
1867-06-13

A contract between Tomas, a Chinese settler, and Narciso Gelado. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Tomas did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Narciso Gelado, the governor of Matanzas, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1867-09-21

A contract between Laureano, a Chinese settler, and Francisco Aballi. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes Laureano completed a contract with Francisco Aballi previously. Laureano did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Antonio Laucinca and Antonio Liney.

Created Date
1868-10-15

A contract between Julian, a Chinese settler, and Valentin de la Villa. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Julian did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Manuel, Valentin de la Villa, Jose Lope Francas, Guillermo Manuel Gomez.

Created Date
1865-07-22

A contract between Jose, a Chinese settler, and Julian Maresma. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Jose did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Jose Lopez Francas, Guillermo Gomez, Julian Maresma.

Created Date
1865-07-19

This is a second labor contract that was shared between Laureano- a Chinese settler, and his owner Francisco Kalli; the term of the contract was for one year. 1867.

Created Date
1867-10-03

A contract between Homobono, a Chinese settler, and Juan Serrate. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Homobono completed a contract with Angel previously.

Created Date
1867-06-13

This is the first labor contract between Sang, otherwise known as Faustino, a Chinese settler, and his new owner, Jose Serrate in Matanzas. This contract was issued after Faustino completed a separate labor contract with another owner. The contract was for one year and his salary was twelve pesos and seventy-five cents. At the bottom, the contract is signed by Jose Serrate, the governor of Matanzas, and two witnesses, but not Faustino himself.

Created Date
1867-06-13

A contract between Joaquin, a Chinese settler, and Domingo E. Madan. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted Joaquin completed a contract with a different employer previously.

Created Date
1868-04-14

A contract between Felix, a Chinese settler, and Juan. The contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes Felix completed a contract with Juan previously. Felix did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by the governor, two witnesses, and Juan.

Created Date
1867-02-17

A contract between a Chinese settler and Jose de Cruz Torrez. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer.

Created Date
1864-07

A contract between Luis Esteban, a Chinese settler, and Santiago. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Luis Esteban completed a contract with Santiago previously. Luis Esteban did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. This is signed by the governor, Santiago, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1867-01-20

A contract between Facundo, a Chinese settler, and Julian Maresma. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer.

Created Date
1865-07-19

A contract between Andres, a Chinese settler, and Juan Sanduala. The contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes Andres completed a contract with Juan Sanduala previously.

Created Date
1867-02-17

A contract between Lan Tazar, a Chinese settler, and Ricardo Ferrero. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Lan Tazar completed a contract with another owner previously. Signed by the governor of Matanzas, Ricardo Ferrero, and Lan Tazar, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1864-03-10

A contract between Le Chan, a Chinese settler, and Domingo. The contract was to last an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Le Chan had completed a contract with Domingo previously. Signed by Domingo, the governor of Matanzas, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1864-03-30

A contract between Baltasar, a Chinese settler, and Tomas M. The contract was to last for four years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Baltasar completed a contract with Manuel Pereda previously. Signed by Tomas M., two witnesses and the governor of Cuba.

Created Date
1862

A contract between Sebastiano, a Chinese settler, and Maximo Mora. The contract was to last for three months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Sebastiano completed a contract with Maximo Mora previously. Sebastiano was originally from Tokien. Signed by Maximo Mora and Sebastiano, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1865

A contract between Sebastian, a Chinese settler, and the Company of the Urban Railroad (Ferrocarril Urbano). The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Sebastian was originally from Canton. Signed by Franco Ortega and Sebastian, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1865

A contract between Simon, a Chinese settler, and Miguel. The contract was to last for eight months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Simon completed a contract with the Sugar Refinery del Carmen previously. Signed by Miguel and Suireon.

Created Date
1865

Justino Campbell transferred his contracts with several Chinese settlers in Cardenas and Matanzas to the Superior Civil Government so that these workers may obtain their cedulas or personal identity cards.

Created Date
1861-05-08

Records for the ship Grey Hound, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with the Company Asiatica, Torices Puente y Co, and Ferran y Duperris. On this trip, the Grey Hound brought settlers from China to work for the railroad in Matanzas.

Created Date
1861

Contracts of Lorenzo, a Chinese settler and his employer, Juan Moreno. Each contract was to last for six months and each lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Lorenzo had completed a previous contract with Juan Moreno not included in this document. Signed by Alejandro, Juan Moreno, and Jose Jorge.

Created Date
1879

Records pertaining to the right of a company to not pay for the burial of their employees if they die while contracted. The company in question is a railroad and the judge ruled that they did not have to pay for their worker's burial.

Created Date
1866-10-30

Records pertaining to the right of a company to not pay for the burial of their employees if they die while contracted. The company in question is a railroad and the judge ruled that they did not have to pay for their worker's burial. Two Chinese settlers, Rafael and Benrem filed the charges.

Created Date
1868-08-19

Records pertaining to the right of a company to not pay for the burial of their employees if they die while contracted. The company in question is a railroad and has been solicited by the government concerning the case.

Created Date
1867-10-14

These are three fines were issued to three separate Chinese settlers for having violated some rule or for having committed some sort of penalty. Matanzas- 1874

Created Date
1874-08-12

A letter from the Consul General of China in Havana to Chang Yin Jung, the mayor of Matanzas. It details how the Consul General congratulates him on his recent appointment to the position of mayor.

Created Date
1899

An identity card, or cedilla, for Tomas. Tomas was forty-six years old when this card was issued. Tomas was employed by Pedro Fernandez.

Created Date
1870-02-16

An identity record, or cedula, for Cayetano, a Chinese settler. Cayetano was thirty years old when this card was issued and worked for Luis Tapia.

Created Date
1869

An identity card, or cedula, for Agustin Afon. Agustin was 33 years old when this card was issued.

Created Date
1880

An identity record or cedula for Jose Elias. He was originally from Canton. Jose was 43 years old when this card was issued.

Created Date
1881-10-03

An identity card, or cedula, for Higenio.

Created Date
1880-01-10

Records of new Chinese settlers who arrived in Cuba ill. They disembarked from the ship and were treated at the Principle "Depot." Only their names are listed.

Created Date
1872-08-18

Several Chinese settlers were hired to work. They were transported to Cuba aboard the ship Leopoldo Cateaux under contract with Juan Puey. These workers were hired to work in Matanzas.

Created Date
1863-03-20

This is a list of sixty Chinese settlers whose eight year labor contracts were transferred to Banco de San Carlos upon their arrival in Havana. The settlers were transported to Cuba aboard the Spanish ship "Emigrante", and they were required to work as indentured servants for eight years. These settlers were hired by the bank to do fieldwork in Matanzas, Cuba. 1865.

Created Date
1865-03-15

6 Chinese settlers were hired to work. They landed in Cuba in the port of Matanzas and were housed in the Depot. These workers were hired to work for an unnamed employer.

Created Date
1872-09-18

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

This is a money script for the payment of Chinese settlers for a total of one hundred and forty-three pesos.

Created Date
1871

This document contains a record of payment made out an employer in order to pay his Chinese workers.

Created Date
1870

Payment records of Gonzales y Compania in Matanzas, detailing the total amount of money owed as payment to their employed Chinese settlers.

Created Date
1870

List of workers who were recently hired by various employers. It lists the name of the employer or company, the name of the settler and their personal details.

Created Date
1860

List of workers who were recently hired by various employers. It lists the name of the employer or company, the name of the settler and their personal details.

Created Date
1862

This is a series of reports files by the mayor of Guanabacoa concerning the treatment of Chinese settlers in Cuba, including punishment for crimes and the death penalty.

Record of a Chinese settler letter home. Contains: recontract request signed in Chinese in 1865, Chinese settler original contract in Matanzas in 1864, Identity card for Chinese settlers in 1864, Chinese settler original contract in Matanzas in 1865, record of baptism of Chinese settler 1865, Request for a letter of address- he said he was hired at the ingenio Carmen oliva, compliance with contract document in the sugar mill with carmen olivia 1866, recommendations of good conduct from previous owners, pledge of allegiance the the Spanish crown signed in chinese

Created Date
1865

List of Chinese settlers who ran away from their owners and were later captured. After capture, they were held in the Municipal Slave Deposit in Santa Maria del Rosario. Their names, ages, and nationality are listed along with the dates of their escape and capture.

Created Date
1858-03-01

This is a second labor contract that was shared between Blas, a Chinese settler, and his owner, Jose Maria Bosquet y Cara. Blas was brought from China to Cuba to work as an indentured servant and the length of the contract was for two years. This is signed by the governor, Jose Maria Bosquet y Cara, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1871-05-06

Records for the ship Carmelita, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Rita Barbarca a la Lara. On this trip, Carmelita brought settlers from China to work in Matanzas.

Created Date
1861

Shipping records for the ship, the Carmelita, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba. The Carmelita has fulfilled its contract for the shipment of these settlers on the 30th of October, 1852. These settlers were to be contracted by other employers.

Created Date
1860

Records for the ship Encarnacion, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Marino Gillado. On this trip, the Encarnacion brought settlers from China to work for Arrengui Ganz.

Created Date
1865-03-24

Records for the ship Encarnacion, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Marino Gillado. On this trip, Encarnacion brought twenty settlers from China to work for Juan Vermay.

Created Date
1865-03-22

Records for the ship Encarnacion, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Marino Gillado. On this trip, the Encarnacion brought settlers from China to work for Arrengui Ganz.

Created Date
1865-03-24

Records for the ship Kate Hooper, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Torices, Puente and Ferran y Dupierris. One worker from China to work as a domestic servant for Antonio M. Rodriguez in Matanzas.

Created Date
1861-06-04