James H. McCormick, 76, an employee of the Department of Agriculture for more than 40 years, died of a respiratory ailment Tuesday at the Potomac Valley Nursing Home in Rockville.

Mr. McCormick had served on the faculty and as chairman of the publications committee of the Department of Agriculture Graduate School for more than 20 years.

He later was assistant director of the department's Office of Public Information, until retiring in 1969.

He received a certificate of appreciation from the department for his outstanding service to the War Food Administration and the War Production Board during World War II.

Mr. McCormick was born in Springfield. III. and earned a bachelor's degree at Marquette University and a master's degree from Georgetown University.

After he retired from Agriculture, he served for a time on a committee involved in accumulating and organizing data for the National Archives.

Mr. McCormick was active in the American Association of Agricultural College Editors and was a past chapter chairman of the Society for Technical Communication. He also was a member of the Kiwanis and the Knights of Columbus.

He is survived by his wife Barbara of Leisure World in Silver Spring: two daughters, Patricia Dooley of Bethesda and Rita McMahon of Kenwood: a son James of Potomac: a stepson Steven D. Weitz of Bladensburgh: a brother Joseph and sister Frances LaBriar both of springfield. III. four other sisters, Mary Woodruff of Euclid, Ohio, and Elsie McCormick. Patricia Fravel and Kathryn Kubelavic , all of Chicago, and 10 grandchildren.