At the 2010 Queensland Day dinner hosted by the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, Dr Jan Wegner was awarded the John Douglas Kerr Medal of Distinction.
Dr Janice Helen Wegner is currently a Senior Lecturer in History at James Cook University, Cairns, and a professional historian of the highest standing. Jan holds membership of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, and the Professional Historians Association of Queensland, as well other kindred historical associations and societies across mining, gardening, engineering and technology, and historical archaeology fields.
Jan is an expert in mining history and local or regional history, but has not been constrained into narrow fields by these areas, and in fact has used these speciality areas as springboards into other fields of historical inquiry and analysis such as women on the mining frontier, environmental, public health, and gardening or lifestyle history. And a feature of her publications and conference papers is an appreciation of the social context of history.
One of the most prominent aspects of Jan’s research is her careful, thorough and scrupulous use of historical sources, all of which she is renowned for among her peers. Her familiarity with archival sources in Queensland mining history is of exceptional standard. In the areas of local or regional history, Jan has pursued historical interpretation of artefacts in the built environment, during which she has developed and utilised skills in the field of industrial archaeology, and has achieved an extremely impressive record in cultural heritage fieldwork along the way.
Jan’s standards of excellence in scholarship are evident in a wide range of publications, with one of her first being a chapter on the Aboriginal people of the Etheridge Shire in North Queensland in the 1978 book, Race Relations in North Queensland; the production of a book documenting the history of Etheridge Shire in 1990; through to one of her most recent published articles in the Australian Economic History Review bringing to life with detailed research and practiced prose, what some might see as mundane, the technological topic of explosives use in Queensland mines.
Jan’s professionalism and dedication to the field of history goes much further. She has a real passion for cultural heritage, which in turn has been acknowledged by her appointments as an Expert Assessor under the Queensland Heritage Act and as a member of the Queensland Heritage Council and other recognised advisory committees, as well as imbuing enthusiasm and appropriate heritage skills among her students.