Wood Gray, 72, professor emeritus of American history at George Washington University, died after a fall Monday at his Georgetown home.

Although he retired from active teaching in 1972, Prof. Gray had continued to work daily on campus, updating his "Historian's Handbook: A Key to the Study and Writing of History," a guidebook for history students, which has been used in more than 500 colleges and universities.

Prof. Gray had been at George Washington since 1934, except for three years with the Air Force as a major during World War 11. He served in Europe and at the Pentagon.

Born in Petersburg, 111., he received a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois in 1927, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, where he also taught, in 1933. He taught briefly in the public sehools of Pontiac, Ill.

A sports enthusiast, he remembered one of his proudest accomplishments was when, as student football manager at Illinois, he taped the ankles of Red Grange before the Michigan game in which Grange scored five touchdowns. He quipped that he knew Grange so well he could call him Harold.

Prof. Gray had served as chairman of the GW history department from 1937 until 1953, and had been active in other campus organizations. He led the drive for one of the nation's most liberal faculty rights, while a member of the university Senate. He served as secretary to the American Association of University Professors for two terms and was United States history section editor for the American Historical Review for more than 20 years.

As a member of the admissions committee of the Cosmos Club, he helped integrate the club with the admission of fellow historian John Hope Franklin.

Besides the handbook. Prof. Gray was the author of "The Hidden Civil War: The Story of the Copperheads," and was coarthor of the Marcus W. Jernegan Essays in American Historiography.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothea, and a brother, Miles, of Springfield, Ill.

Expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to Children's Hospital.

His fellow faculty members have scheduled a memorial service for noon Thursday at the Marvin Center Theater on campus.