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Mss:704 1957-1994 T255

Technical Studies Inc. (New York, N.Y.) Technical Studies, Inc. Records, 1957-1994 (inclusive): A Finding Aid

Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University


Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: Mss:704 1957-1994 T255
Repository: Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Creator: Technical Studies Inc. (New York, N.Y.)
Title: Technical Studies Inc. (New York, N.Y.) records
Date(s): 1957-1994
Quantity: 24 linear feet (5 volumes, 1 box, 16 cartons)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Records of Technical Studies Inc., an American firm involved in the planning of a tunnel beneath the English Channel, connecting France and Great Britain, circa 1957-1994.


Gift of Technical Studies, Inc. (TSI), 1996.

Processing Information:

Processed: 1999
By: Sean Perrone

Conditions Governing Access:

This collection is stored offsite. Please contact histcollref@hbs.edu for more information regarding this collection.

Preferred Citation:

Cite as: Technical Studies Inc. (New York, N.Y.) Records. Baker Library, Harvard Business School.

Historical Note:

At least as early as the time of the Napoleonic wars some people had dreamed of linking continental Europe and England by means of a tunnel or bridge across the English Channel. Businessmen and engineers promoted various schemes throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the enthusiasm of the British and French governments for such proposals varied according to shifts in the political climate. Interest in the idea remained high for many, including Frank P. Davidson, an American lawyer. His interest in a Channel tunnel was galvanized in 1956 during a crossing of the English Channel by boat in stormy weather. He approached the Suez Canal Company to see if he could revive interest in the "Chunnel" (a term he coined, meaning "Channel tunnel") and also enlisted his brothers, John and Alfred Davidson. The brothers soon saw the advantages of establishing a corporation whose purpose was to gather relevant information about French and English laws, means of finance, technical capabilities, engineering ideas, political climates, and other factors related to planning a tunnel or bridge across the Channel. The resulting corporation was Technical Studies, Inc. (TSI), organized March 13, 1957.
TSI became part of the Channel Tunnel Study Group, established by a protocol of agreement on July 26, 1957. The group was governed by a Board of Control consisting of representatives of the participants: the Channel Tunnel Company (Great Britain), the Société Concessionaire du Chemin de Fer Sous-Marin entre la France et l'Angleterre (France), the International Road Federation (headquartered in Paris), the Universal Suez Canal Company, and TSI. A manager was appointed to carry out the studies under the direction of the Board of Control. Prolonged discussions about the financing of construction continued through the 1960s. The original study group was divided and a new study group was formed, consisting of a British Sub-group and a French Sub-group. The British Sub-group organized a corporation, in which each member had a financial interest, called the British Channel Tunnel Company, Ltd. The old Channel Tunnel Company, Ltd., became Channel Tunnel Investments, Ltd. The French Sub-group similarly organized a corporation known as the Société Française du Tunnel sous la Manche.
The various parties and governments entered into an agreement on October 20, 1972, to allow phase one of construction. On November 17, 1973, Great Britain and France signed a treaty allowing construction to begin, and the work started on the same day. Great Britain unilaterally abandoned the project in 1975 on the grounds of economic uncertainty. Changes in the political and economic climate resulted in a resumption of construction in 1987. The British and French sides of the tunnel came together in 1990 and it was opened for use in 1994.
The Davidsons had been introduced at an early age to the challenges of tunnel construction. Their father, New York City's commissioner for water supply during the LaGuardia administration, had been responsible for construction of the world's longest bored tunnel, a conduit for drinking water stretching eighty miles from the Delaware Water Gap to Manhattan.
Frank Paul Davidson was born in New York City in 1918, and received an S.B. from Harvard in 1939. He was a member of the U.S. Government Informal Presidential Advisory Committee on the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1940 to 1941 and served in the Canadian Armed Forces from 1941 to 1946. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1948, worked for the Houston Chamber of Commerce between 1948 and 1950, and was on an E.C.A. Special Mission to France from 1950 to 1953. He engaged in the private practice of law between 1953 and 1970, living in New York City. He became President and Director of TSI in 1957.
In 1970 Frank Davidson moved to metropolitan Boston, where he joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Senior Research Associate. He headed MIT's System Dynamics Steering Committee, and founded its Macro-engineering Research Group. He believed that major contributions to human progress could be achieved through carefully selected and appropriately designed macro-engineering projects, but that such large-scale enterprises –public and/or private- needed champions and sponsors to promote them. He officially retired from MIT in 1988, but remained at the Institute until 1996 with an appointment in the School of Engineering. (TSI was an independent venture conducted simultaneously with his other activities as a lawyer and as a research associate at MIT.)
John F. Davidson was born in New York City in 1905, and earned the A.B. from Harvard in 1927 and the LL.B. from Harvard Law School in 1930. He worked as an attorney for the U.S. Government from 1934 to 1943, served on active duty in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946 as a Lieutenant Commander, and engaged in the private practice of law, starting in 1946. He lived in New York, and became Secretary and General counsel of TSI in 1957.
Alfred Edward Davidson was born in New York City in 1911, and received the A.B. from Harvard in 1933 and the LL.B. from Columbia Law School in 1936. He was a lawyer for the U.S. Government from 1938 to 1945 and for the United Nations from 1945 to 1954, entering business after 1954. He became Vice President of TSI in 1957 and General Counsel in 1959. He maintained residences in London and Paris.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:

Scope and Content Note:

The collection contains very little information about the actual construction and completion of the Channel Tunnel. Most of the materials in the collection relate to planning and studies conducted in the 1950s and 1960s in preparation for obtaining financing and governmental approval.
Researchers interested in the general activities of TSI or in details of planning for the tunnel before 1964 will do well to start by examining the 123 volumes of "TSI Archives" in Series I. These volumes seem to be a comprehensive compilation of reports, correspondence, plans, figures, and other documents relating to all aspects of the project. Additional general files on TSI and tunnel planning will be found in Series II correspondence, in clippings in Series III, and in "miscellaneous" materials in Series IV. Researchers interested in backers, consultants, and other individuals or corporations involved in the early days of the project will want to look at the concise profiles in Series IV under "Persons and organizations," as well as materials in Series I, II, and IV. General financial information about TSI is filed as "Operations" in Series V. Researchers interested in treaties and legal aspects of the project should consult Series I, II, III, and IV, paying particular attention to "legal precedents and problems" materials in Volume 53 of Series I. Researchers interested in political considerations will find Series I especially rewarding. Press coverage and public reception of ideas associated with the Channel Tunnel is found especially in Series III and IV, but also in Series I. Researchers interested in technical and engineering aspects of the project's planning will want to examine site investigation reports in Series VI in addition to materials in Series I.

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