Jean E. Keith, 58, a retired Army historian who was active in Alexandria preservation and civic organizations, died of cancer Friday in Louisville, Ky., nursing home.

Mr. Keith was president of Alexandria's Old Town Civic Association for three years during the late 1960s. He also served as president of the Historic Alexandria Foundation and chairman of the Alexandria Tourist Council for five years during the 1970s.

He helped obtain laws preserving historic Alexandria landmarks, and worked to renovate the boyhood home of Robert E. Lee. He was the author of "Historic Alexandria, Virginia, Street by Street."

He was vice chairman of the Alexandria Bicentennial Commission, a member of the Committee for a Workable Pogram for Urban Renewal, the Alexandria Historical Society, and the Alexandria Association.

Mr. Keith had been president of the Old Town Walled Garden Club and a member of the citizens advisory committee to expand the Alexandria Public Library.

He helped found the Virginia Scottish Games in Alexandria and served on the Scottish Games Association board of managers.

Mr. Keith retired in 1973 after 23 years as a historian with the Army's Corps of Engineers.He was the coauthor of a volume of the Army's official history of World War II, which dealt with troops and supplies of the Corps of Engineers during the war.

He was a native of Elizabethtown, Ky. He earned a bachelor's degree at Western Kentucky State College and a master's degree in history at Johns Hopkins University.

He lived in Baltimore before moving to Alexandria in the late 1960s.

Mr. Keith served as a Navy gunnery officer aboard destroyers in the South Pacific during World War II.

He is survived by three sisters, Katherine Nall, of Louisville, Anna Miller, of Altamonte Springs, Fla., and Lucille Meredith, of Elizabethtown.