Mary Etta Newsom, 82, a social worker who helped attract attention to the problem of "battered children," died Monday at the home of a daughter in Washington. She had suffered a stroke in November.

Mrs. Newsom, who lived here, had been supervisor of intake in the child welfare division of the D.C. Department of Public Welfare from 1949 until 1965.

She then was supervisor of intake at the Family and Child Services of Washington, D.C., until 1970. She was in charge of interviewing and processing those needing assistance.

Born in Meridian, Miss., Mrs. Newsom was a graduate of Millsape College. After the death in 1928 of her husband, Bruce D. Newsom, a lawyer in Grenade, Miss., she returned to college, earning a master's degree in mathematics and psychology from Duke University.

She worked for the Emergency Relief Administration in Mississippi. From 1936 to 1944, she was with the Mississippi State Hospital in Jackson; opened the first child-welfare unit in Vicksbury, Miss., and earned a degree in child welfare from the University of Chicago.

In 1944-45, Mrs. Newsom was director of intake at D.C. Juvenile Court. She then spent four years as head of the Children's Bureau in Knoxville, Tenn.

A member of many social work organizations, she was honored with a civil service award for outstanding service in 1963.

Mrs. Newsom was a member of Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church, where she had been president of the Wesleyan Service Guild and an officer of United Methodist Women.

She is survived by two daughters, Mrs. William S. Sims, of Washington, and Mrs. William B. Krebs, of Hanover, Pa., and two grandchildren.