At the 2009 Queensland Day dinner hosted by the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, Dr John Steele was awarded the John Douglas Kerr Medal of Distinction.
Dr John Gladstone Steele, a former lecturer in Physics at the University of Queensland as well as a retired Anglican priest, is also one of Queensland’s most respected historians, with many books and journal articles to his credit. John has published extensively on Queensland and Northern Rivers of New South Wales since the early 1970s. He has covered the historical fields of convict Brisbane, exploration of the south-east region, Aboriginal history (particularly since the arrival of European settlers), art history (especially the artist Conrad Martens in Queensland), geographical discoveries, Anglican Church history, as well as his own family history.
John’s initial publications through University of Queensland Press, The Explorers of the Moreton Bay District 1770-1830 (1972), and Brisbane Town in Convict Days 1824-1842 (1975), were both very important historical contributions derived from original source materials, many of which were located outside of Queensland in various interstate repositories – especially the Mitchell Library and the National Library. These seminal works still form the basis for many historians’ research libraries and as the starting points for understanding the history of these aspects of Brisbane or Moreton Bay’s early European exploration and the convict period.
Several of John’s journal articles, especially those published in the John Oxley Library’s Queensland Heritage, built upon the primary sources and analysed various aspects in considerable detail. In particular, “Brisbane Town in 1829” and “Redcliffe in 1824” are considered highly original and influential frameworks. John’s extensive knowledge of the convict period was also more recently reflected in his annotations, in conjunction with Dr Jennifer Harrison, to The Fell Tyrant, reproduced for the Royal Historical Society of Queensland’s 90th birthday.
John in recent years has been contributing a series of articles to the St John’s Cathedral magazine, Eagle, further exploring the developmental history of Queensland and the Anglican Church during the nineteenth century. John has also been a member of historical committee of the Anglican diocese celebrations as part of Queensland’s 2009 sesqui-centenary.
The high standard of John’s primary research and historical writing is demonstrated by his wide range of publications and the continuing requests he receives for assistance and guidance by other researchers and university students working on Queensland Anglican history, the convict period, Aboriginal history, and the artwork of Conrad Martens.