Sarah Thomson

Thesis title: ‘A Transformational Conservative? Constructing Ronald Reagan’s Political Legacy, 1984-93’


I completed my undergraduate degree in English Literature and History at the University of Edinburgh, spending my third year at the University of Virginia. I then completed a Masters in American Studies at the University of Glasgow, before returning to Edinburgh to start my PhD in History in September 2018. My project explores the construction of Ronald Reagan's political legacy, both within his White House and into the 1990s, and is funded by the AHRC. I was a 2020 British Research Council Fellow at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. 

Throughout my PhD I have also maintained a keen interest in the heritage sector, and have worked part time at the National Library of Scotland since January 2018, across the Moving Image Archive, reference services, and special collections departments. 


MLitt American Studies, University of Glasgow (2017-18), Distinction. 

Dissertation: 'Taking the Rose Garden on the Road: Ronald Reagan’s 1984 Tour of Europe.’


MA (Hons) English Literature and History, University of Edinburgh (2013-17), First Class.

Dissertation: 'A Shot Heard Around the World’? Exploring the justifications and motivations behind the US invasion of Grenada.’ 

Responsibilities & affiliations

Postgraduate Representative, Presidential History Network.

Member, Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS). 

Member, British Association of American Studies (BAAS). 

Postgraduate Secretary, Scottish Association for the Study of America (2018-2020). 

Undergraduate teaching

United States History (Spring 2021). 

The Historian's Toolkit (Fall 2020).

Modern United States History (Spring 2019)

Global Connections  (Fall 2019)

Writing Centre Tutor (Fall 2019- ongoing). 

Current project grants

2020 Silas Palmer Fellowship, Hoover Institution (Stanford University).
2020 British Research Council Fellow, John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress.
2020 Scowcroft O'Donnell Grant, George HW Bush Presidential Library/Texas A&M University.

Past project grants

2017-18 Gordon Studentship in American Studies, University of Glasgow.
2017 Janet S. Christie Bequest, University of Edinburgh.
2017 Principal's Go Abroad Fund (Research), University of Edinburgh.
2016 University of Virginia Arts and Science Research and Travel Grant.

Articles/Book Chapters:

Sarah Thomson, 'The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the White House Legacy Project, 1984-89' in Marie Alice L’Heureux and Kapila D. Silva (eds), Reimagining Presidential Legacies: Critical Perspectives on Presidential Libraries and Museums (under contract with University Press of Kansas)- in preparation. 

Sarah Thomson, 'Presidential Travel and the Rose Garden Strategy: a case study of Ronald Reagan’s 1984 tour of Europe', Presidential Studies Quarterly, December 2020.  Winner of the 2021 HOTCUS ECR Article Prize. 

Public Engagement:

Sarah Thomson, 'Rancho del Cielo: Saving Reagan's Western White House', White House History Quarterly, Winter 2022. 

Sarah Thomson, 'As we rethink Ronald Reagan’s legacy, we should also rethink how and why it was constructed', Washington Post (12 August 2019).