Fonds DAV - Frank T. Davies fonds

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Frank T. Davies fonds

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    Reference code

    CA ON00419 DAV

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    • 1889-1992, 2015 (Creation)
      Davies, Frank Thomas, 1904-1981

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    Physical description

    2.93 metres of textual records and other material

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    Name of creator

    (1904-08-12 - 1981-09-23)

    Biographical history

    Frank Thomas Davies was born on 12 August 1904 in Methyr Tydfil, Wales, the son of school headmaster Richard Davies and school teacher Jessie Starr Davis. He attended local schools and went to the University College of Wales, Aberystwth, to study physics. Graduating with a BSc in 1925, he went to Saskatchewan where he held various jobs before becoming a demonstrator in physics in the University of Saskatchewan. This influenced Davies to go to McGill University where he received a Masters of Science in 1928.

    In 1928 he was chosen by Admiral Richard E. Byrd to go on the first Byrd Antarctic Expedition of 1928-1930 as a physicist to gather terrestrial and atmospheric data. This expedition included elements of traditional Antarctic expeditions such as grueling physical effort and dog teams as well as newer elements of radio and aircraft. Like all members of the expedition he received the (US) Congressional Gold Medal in 1930. This gave him the experience to lead the Canadian Second Polar Expedition to Chesterfield Inlet, Northwest Territories (now Igluligaarjuk, Nunavut) on Hudson Bay in 1932-1933. The scientific data it gathered was published in two volumes as the Canadian Polar Year Expeditions, 1932-33.

    Davies, who had previously worked for the Carnegie Institute of Washington on terrestrial magnetism, became the Director of the Carnegie Geophysical Observatory in Huancayo Peru. He lived with his wife and two children at the observatory in Peru from 1936 to 1939.

    Davies returned to Canada at the beginning of the Second World War and joined the National Research Council. He was seconded to do research for both the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Navy on the application of ionospheric data to high frequency radio detection and direction finding. Davies was a member of the Canadian Radio Wave Propagation Committee 1944-1946. It became the nucleus of Radio Physics Laboratory (RPL) of the newly-formed Defence Research Board (DRB) in 1948. Davies was superintendent of the Radio Physics Laboratory, then Director of Physical Research and later Assistant Chief Scientist of DRB.

    From 1951 to his retirement in 1969, Davies was Director General of the Defence Research Telecommunications Establishment (DRTE) of DRB. Its priorities included Arctic communications, high altitude research using Black Brant rockets and the design and construction of the Canadian satellites Alouette I launched by NASA in 1962 and Alouette II (1965) as well as later research and communications satellites. Davies was involved in each of these projects.

    After his retirement, Davies reconnected with the resurgence of American research in Antarctica. He received honorary doctorates from McGill and York University in 1977 as well as medals from the Canadian government. He was a life member of Canadian Association of Physicists and a Fellow of the Arctic Institute of North America. Frank T. Davies died on 23 September 1981 at the age of 77.

    Custodial history

    The fonds was acquired from the Davies family in 2012 and from the Friends of the CRC in 2015.

    Scope and content

    Fonds consists of biographical material on Davies; his personal correspondence, scientific articles, notes, reports and talks; his journals and trip notebooks 1928-1980 and college notebooks. Articles, scientific notebooks and reports by Davies and others relating to the Byrd Antarctic Expedition of 1928-1930 plus material on American Antarctic research in the 1970s. Davies’ articles, notebooks and reports on the Second Polar Year Expedition to Chesterfield Inlet NWT of 1932-1933. Davies’ correspondence, notebooks and procedures relating to his work for the Carnegie Institution 1931-1940, including his work as as director of the observatory in Huancayo, Peru. Articles, reports, publications by Davies and others relating to the Defence Research Telecommunications Establishment 1943-1970 relating to research in the Arctic, radio communication, the Canadian research satellites Alouette I (launched 1962) and Alouette II (launched 1965). Reference material related to Davies’ fields of interest. Individual photos and albums relating to Davies, the Byrd Antarctic Expedition, the Second International Polar Year expedition to Chesterfield Inlet, social activities at DRTE etc. There is also a series of records that Davies compiled while planning to write his history of DRTE, as well as a series consisting of 4 objects. The fonds is arranged in 10 series.

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        Restrictions on access

        One document in Series 09 History of DRTE File Staff DRTE with evaluations of staff was redacted by hand (blocked out with black marker) by Davies, most-likely. However, it may be possible to read the names through the marker. Researchers may see the document but should sign a research agreement to the effect that they will not disclose personal information (employee evaluations) until 50 years after death of the person concerned.

        Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

        Finding aids

        A detailed list to the file/item-level is available upon request.

        Uploaded finding aid

        Associated materials

        Additional archival material on F.T. Davies can be found at Library and Archives Canada (MG 30 B 73). At the University of Saskatchewan Archives, there is further information on Davies in the W.O. Kupsch fonds (MG 146) and there is also a Second International Polar Year Collection. There is also a fonds at the National Archives and Records Administrations (USA) : the Frank Thomas Davies Papers (identifier XFTD).

        Related materials


        General note

        Content warning: there are colonial and racist attitudes recorded in the journals and correspondence exchanged about the Second International Polar Year Expedition. Davies or his correspondants also recorded references to sexual assault and suicide.

        Physical description

        The fonds includes 2.93 metres of textual records, ca. 1175 photographs, 1 audio reel, 4 objects, 9 drawings, and 1 painting.

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        Accession number: AX0011.

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        First finding aid by Larry McNally, 2014. Accrual/draft French added by Adele Torrance, 2018. French editing by Céline Mongeau, Larocque Linguistic Services, 2018-12. Updated with information on W.O. Kupsch fonds, Adele Torrance, 2020-01. Wikidata URI added, A. Torrance, 2020-07-15.

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