Jan Koperberg honored with OAM for services to community history

The importance of the past is never far from the mind of Springwood community historian Jan Koperberg.

And she's thrilled to be awarded with a Medal of the Order of Australia for more than a decade of service to researching the wider community's stories.

"I was honored to be picked. I realise there's lots of people who could be nominated," Ms Koperberg said. "I enjoy doing it."

Ms Koperberg, 75, has been serving numerous historical groups promoting family history research, since semi-retiring 13 years ago from managing a doctor's practice where she kept the medical records of many in the Winmalee and Springwood communities.

Her interest in community history started with late night sleuthing online about her own family.

She wanted to know whether many of the stories she had heard as a small child were true.

She lost hours on Trove - looking at old newspaper print - and it soon led to helping others along the same search.

Ms Koperberg has been editor of the Royal Australian Historical Society's eNewsletter and minutes secretary of the Blue Mountains Crossing Bicentenary Committee.

She has also held numerous roles on the Blue Mountains Association of Cultural and Heritage Organisations, as well as president, vice president and secretary of the Blue Mountains Family History Society.

She said being a family historian is a little like being a detective.

"It's incredible [doing family histories], you feel like you are prying in a way, but in another way, you are keeping them [your relatives] alive.

"It's amazing what you find out, not just about family, about history in general. It does give you roots."

Ms Koperberg has lived in the Mountains for 50 years and previously been recognised for her efforts with a Blue Mountains Lithgow and Oberon Tourism Award in 2013 and Springwood Rotary Pride of Workmanship Award in 2004.

Her own ancestors include a Danish seal hunter, an archivist and 13 convicts.

One of those convicts was highway robber John Ross who worked on the first road over the Mountains in 1814 and was emancipated a year later by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. Recently she was able to show her Hunter relatives the gravesite.

Ms Koperberg thanked "all the people who have provided friendship, support, helpful advice and collegial working groups (too many to mention individually) over the last 12 years".

Family historian celebrated in Queen's birthday honours: Jan Koperberg.

Family historian celebrated in Queen's birthday honours: Jan Koperberg.

"I have learnt so much and it has been a positive journey. Although I have done my own research, my main roles have been supporting groups in an administrative way."