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A Guide to the Chinese Indentured Workers in Cuba Contracts

Finding aid created by Kalthoum Elfasi

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
June 2016


Descriptive Summary

Creator: Municipal governments of Cárdenas, Colón, Havana, and Matanzas
Title: Chinese Indentured Workers in Cuba Contracts
Dates: 1861-1878
Bulk dates: 1868
Abstract: The collection houses 25 Cuban contracts spanning from 1861 to 1878 for Chinese indentured workers. The contracts hail from different parts of Cuba and include personal information about the workers as well as information regarding the conditions of the contract and special provisions. This collection offers a glimpse into the changing nature of labor in Cuba in the 1860s and surrounding years.
Extent: 1 Folder.
Identification: MSS 0359
Language(s): Spanish
Note: This guide is available in Spanish at http://www.library.ufl.edu/spec/manuscript/guides/chinese-cuba-contracts_es.htm

Biographical/Historical Note

During the nineteenth century, around 125,000 Chinese, predominantly men, were brought to Cuba to work as indentured workers. Oftentimes referred to as "Coolies" (culí in Spanish), the need for Chinese workers in Cuba arose after the abolition of slavery. Cubans found themselves in need of cheap labor to run the sugar industry and resorted to bringing Chinese workers to the island nation. The first Chinese workers were brought to Cuba in June of 1847, many of whom were political prisoners involved in an uprising against Chinese feudal lords. Though they were brought to Cuba as "workers," the treatment Chinese workers received under Cuban patrons is questionable and thought to be equal to, if not more cruel than, the treatment received by African slaves.


Scope and Content

This collection contains twenty-five nineteenth-century Cuban work contracts for Chinese indentured workers. The nineteenth-century contracts, which are partially printed and completed in manuscript, span from 1861 to 1878. These contracts were issued from different parts of Cuba, such as Cárdenas, Havana, Colón, and Matanzas. Though not all contracts are complete, they contain general information about each person, such as name (original in Chinese and new in Spanish), age, civil state, city of origin, and trade. The contracts also include varying numbers of articles which dictate the conditions under which the contract will be carried out, such as the duration of the contract, salary, and the amounts of food, rest, and clothes the indentured worker will receive throughout the duration of the contract. Many of the contracts conclude with the signature of the 'patron' as well as the signature of the worker or of a witness; oftentimes the signature was written in Chinese characters.


Arrangement

The collection is arranged in chronological order.


Access or Use Restrictions

Access

This collection is open for research.


Related or Separated Material

Cuban Slave Insurance Collection

Contrato de Cárdenas para Leopoldo, un culí chino en Cuba


Administrative Information

Alternate Form of Finding Aid

This guide is available in Spanish at http://www.library.ufl.edu/spec/manuscript/guides/chinese-cuba-contracts_es.htm.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Chinese Indentured Workers in Cuba Contracts, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

This collection was purchased in March of 2016.


Contents List

Contract between Matias Siem and Ricardo H. Brito. Cárdenas, Cuba. (Note on the back for D. José Hernandez Haren). 1861 November 12
Contract between Rafael and don Esteban [Sarody]. Cárdenas, Cuba. (Note on the back for D. José Hernandez de Abreu). 1862 February 10
Contract between Nicolas and don Jose Morales. Havana, Cuba. (Signatures include two Chinese characters as well as the signature of an interpreter). 1862 April 23
Lease of the Chinese worker Jaime to [Ferrl] Cabaña. Colón, Cuba. 1862 November 1
Lease of the Chinese worker Juan to don Ignacio Yapico. Colón, Cuba. 1862 November 1
Contract between Jecony and don Fulgencio Garcia. Matanzas, Cuba. (No worker signature). 1865 April 28
Contract between Morfeo and don Juan Manuel Alfonso. Matanzas, Cuba. (No worker signature). 1866 February 13
Contract between Pedro and don Julian Roseñada. Colón, Cuba. (Signed by Manuel Campo instead of Pedro, oldest indicated worker in collection). 1866 April 5
Contract between Justino and don Francisco Fabre. Colón, Cuba. (Worker signature includes two Chinese characters written in pencil). 1866 May 6
Contract between Urbano and don Juan O'Naghten. Colón, Cuba. (Clearly defined work hours, two witness signatures instead of that of the worker). 1866 May 20
Contract between Vicente and don Felipe Garcia Varona. Havana, Cuba. (Signature of the worker or of two witnesses, signature contains two Chinese characters). 1866 August 9
Contract between Julian and don Pedro Cuevas. Havana, Cuba. (Completed his contract with the Habana Department for Cimarrones, six Chinese characters included in worker signature). 1866 November 20
Contract between Marcelnio and the heirs of Tomas Orvens. Colón, Cuba. (Worker signature does not appear to be in Chinese). 1867 January 5
Contract between Ricardo and don Ramon Recio de Oquendo. Colón, Cuba. (Worker signature includes two Chinese characters). 1867 January 6
Contract between Cristobal and don Pedro Guera. Colón, Cuba. (Worker signature includes two or three Chinese characters). 1867 January 20
Contract between Jacobo and don Juan Landaluce. Matanzas, Cuba. (No worker signature, very little details about Jacobo). 1867 February 17
Contract between Leun Vac and the Compañía de Almacenes de San José. Havana, Cuba. (Two Spanish signatures instead of that of the worker, signature of interpreter included). 1868 March 23
Contract between Gabriel and don Pedro Campos. Colón, Cuba. (Section of contract referring to illness left blank, worker signature includes two Chinese characters). 1868 May 20
Contract between Eusebio and the Empresa del Ferrocarril. Sagua La Grande, Cuba. (Contract with a railway company, worker signature includes four or five Chinese signatures). 1868 May 30
Contract between Maximo and don Juan Ortiz. Havana, Cuba. (Contract does not indicate a salary, worker signature includes two Chinese characters). 1868 May
Contract between Anselmo and don Peñaranda y Lezama. Sagua La Grande, Cuba. (Unclear worker signature). 1868 June 13
Contract between Fabian and the Compañía de Caminos de Hierro. Havana, Cuba. (Contract with a railway company, worker signature includes two Chinese characters). 1869 July
Contract between Chao Hon Jwaulo and don Jose Maria Castello. Guanajay, Cuba. (No Spanish name indicated, worker signature includes three or four Chinese characters written in pencil). 1869 October 21
Contract between Muris and don Blas Banches. Colón, Cuba. (Contract includes a distinct stamp, workers signature 'X'). 1878 September 2
Contract between Ignacio and the Capitan Interino del Partido de Alacranes on behalf of the State. Matanzas, Cuba. (Many sections left blank, no worker signature). undated

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Cuba
Foreign workers, Chinese
Indentured servants
Labor
Slavery



For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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