Emeritus Professor John Robert Laverty passed away on Thursday evening, 25 April, after a short illness. He was well-known as the authority on Brisbane’s municipal history. His scholarly contribution to the field has been described as monumental. He was an early member of the Queensland Historians Institute Inc., and then a member of the successor organisation, the Professional Historians Association (Queensland) until 2004. He was also a foundation member and a former President of the Brisbane History Group. He was a foundation member, councillor and chairman of the Australian Institute of Urban Studies.
John Laverty was a graduate of the University of Queensland. He was awarded the medal for outstanding merit for his first-class honours thesis, “Development of the town of Brisbane 1823-1859.” John Laverty was one of the last links, if not the last living link, with the Gordon Greenwood era of Queensland history. John Laverty was appointed a research assistant to Professor Greenwood (1913–1986) in 1955 to assist in the production of a centenary history of local government in Brisbane, which he co-authored with Greenwood.
John Laverty spent most of his formative academic career in the Department of External Studies, University of Queensland, where he started his lectureship in history in 1959. In 1971, a few years after he was awarded his Ph.D. for the thesis on “The History of Municipal Government in Brisbane in a Context of Urban Expansion,” John Laverty (at Reader level) was appointed Acting Director of the Department of External Studies, becoming its Director three years later. In 1981 John Laverty was made Professor at the University of Queensland. When the Department of External Studies disbanded he was granted a personal chair in the Department of History, and was granted Emeritus Professor status in 1989.
Before and after his formal retirement from the university, John Laverty made a significant contribution to the broad local history community across the state. John Laverty was one of the few historians researching local government in Queensland, providing guidance to many postgraduates and consultant historians writing shire and municipal histories. Along with Dr Rod Fisher, Associate Professor Ross Johnston, Emeritus Professor John Laverty was involved in the establishment of a Master’s degree concentrating on Local History, that later became a postgraduate degree in Applied (or Public) History. He published many informative papers with the Brisbane History Group. In 2009 Boolarong Press with the Brisbane History Group published John Laverty’s The Making of A Metropolis: Brisbane 1823-1925. It will long be a standard work in the field of local government history for Queensland scholars.
Emeritus Professor John Robert Laverty will be remembered well among his fellow professional historians for the path he forged for us.