Sherman Briscoe, 70, executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and a retired information specialist for the Department of Agriculture, died of cancer Saturday at the Washington Hospital Center.

Mr. Briscoe was a high school teacher and a newspaper editor and publisher before joining Agriculture in 1941, where he handled farm news for black publications. He was cited several times by the department for his outstanding work and earned its second-highest honor, the Superior Service Award, before retiring in 1968.

In 1961, he coordinated press activities for the Agriculture Department's exhibition at the World Agricultural Fair in Cairo.

Mr. Briscoe became executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a professional organization of black newspaper publishers, in 1970.

Besides directing the NNPA's national activities, he established a guide to the black press published by the organization, helped expand the organization's scholarship fund and, in 1977, coordinated estabishment of the Black Press Archives at Howard University.

He also was a cofounder, in the early 1940s, of the Capital Press Club, said to be the nation's oldest organization of black journalists.

In 1970, Mr. Briscoe was praised in a Washington Post editorial for conceiving and organizing the Club's tribute to community volunteers. The tribute, held at the Shoreham Hotel, honored more than 800 residents who were representing more than 20,000 members of clubs and civic organizations committed to a better community. It took Mr. Briscoe more than a year to organize the activity, which he also directed.

He also was a member of the club's executive committee, a former club president and director of the club's speakers bureau.

Mr. Briscoe was born in Brunswick, Miss. He graduated with highest honors from Southern University and earned a master's degree in public administration from American University, where he also had completed requirements for a doctorate.

In 1968, he was named "Tuskegee Man of the Year in Agriculture" by the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He was a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and served as vice president of the Washington branch for many years.

Mr. Briscoe also was member of the National Press Club and the American Academy of Political and Social Science and served on the board of directors of the YMCA.

Survivors include his wife, the former revella Clay, of the home in Washington; a daughter, Marian Finley, of Greenville, Miss., a son, Percy W., of Fishkill, N.Y., and three grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Black Press Archives at Howard University, the National Newspaper Publishers Association Scholarship Fund, or to the NAACP.