James E. Primas Sr., 57, an archivist and bibliographic researcherat the Center for Naval Analyses since 1971, died of cancer Saturday at George Washington University Hospital.

Prior to joining CNA, which is an affiliate of the University of Rochester, Mr. Primas had been an archivist, abstractor and bibliographic specialist for the government for 20 years. He began his career in that field with the Commerce Department in 1951. From 1953 to 1958, he worked for the National archives. He was with the Air Force Photographic Depository from 1968 until he joined CNA.

Mr Primas was born in Washington and graduated from Armstrong High School. He worked briefly for the Naval Gun Factory in the early 1940s and then joined the Army in World War II. He saw service in New Guinea.

After the war, the worked for the Post Office while attending Howard University, from which he graduated with a bachelor's degree in history in 1950. He did further work at American University.

Mr. Primas was a member of the Second New St. Paul Baptist Church in Washington. He also was a member of the Washington Urban League and of Toastmasters International.

Survivors include his wife, Gwendolyn J. Primas, of Washington; a son, James E. Jr., and a daughter, Deitra S., and his mother, Wreather B. Primas, all of the home in Washington

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to Mount Oliver Baptist Church, Woodbridge, Va. CAPTION: Picture, JAMES PRIMAS, SR.