The John Douglas Kerr Medal of Distinction for 2014: Dr Kay Cohen

At the Queensland Day Dinner hosted by the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, Dr Kay Cohen was presented with the 2014 John Douglas Kerr Medal of Distinction.

In a career spanning over thirty years, Dr Kay Cohen has and continues to demonstrate a quiet, generous and prodigious professionalism and dedication to the field of Queensland history. Kay’s principal area of historical research and output has been in the area of public administration history but other key research areas have been cultural heritage, local history and cultural tourism.

Kay’s productive, and it is worth stating diligent and tenacious research capacity in the area of public administration history, in examining government departments and agencies, state enterprises of Queensland for example pastoral stations, the Co-ordinator General’s Office, the role of Main Roads Commission and Department in transport policy and construction has provided a long list of publications, and conference papers. But beyond the multiple entries and topics covered in Kay’s impressive bibliography, and that they were outstanding and detailed historical assessments of these forms of government administration, is the fact that many of her authored and co-authored publications are the definitive starting or reference point for all students of Queensland history. One particular well-thumbed tome is her co-authored book with Ken Wiltshire, People, Places, and Policies: Aspects of Queensland Public Administration 1859-1920.

Another field of Kay’s research work has been heritage studies in particular for Brisbane City Council producing reports on Musgrave Park, Newstead House, Hamilton Cold stores, West End Parks and Spring Hill. More broadly, Kay has researched and written heritage trails and heritage reports on Queensland shires and towns as well as several entries in Australian Dictionary of Biography. Most recently she has been focusing on Brisbane’s early townscape and its buildings.

This broad and productive research output is further complimented by Kay’s generosity to other researchers, and this truly is one Kay’s renowned personal and professional qualities.

In the true spirit of the John Douglas Kerr Medal of Distinction as a tribute, and witness of the esteem of fellow historians, and as an acknowledgement of excellence in historiography, historical research and writing in Queensland History Dr Kay Cohen is most assuredly an accomplished and deserving recipient of this year’ John Douglas Kerr Medal.