Dorothy Mead Jacobsen, 79, who was director of personnel at the Peace Corps from 1961 to 1968, died of congestive heart failure Thursday at her home in Washington.

Mrs. Jacobawn's Peace Corps assignment was the last in a career as a government personnel official that lasted almost 40 years. In the year she retired from the Peace Corps, she received the Government Executives Award.

From 1969 until 1975, she was a private staffing consultant specializing in executive recruitment. In 1975 and 1976, she worked in Sargent Shriver's campaign for the Democratic nomination for the presidency.

Mrs. Jacobsen was born in Denver and grew up in Dayton.She attended the University of Wisconsin for two years and later studied landscape architecture. She lived in Taylorsville, Ill., with her husband, Dr. Guy Herbert Jacobsen. Dr. Jacobsen died in 1929.

In 1931, Mrs. Jacobsen moved to Washington and began her career with the U.S. Employment Service. About 1936, she transferred to the Rural Electrification Agency as a personnel officer. From 1939 to 1942, she was head of employment at the Federal Works Agency.

She spent a year as a senior negotiator with the Civil Service Commission and then joined the Navy Department, where she was engaged in hiring civilian personnel during World War ii. After the war, she remained at Navy and specialized in persuading young people to make careers in government until she transferred to the Peace Corps.

Mrs. Jacobsen's survivors include three daughters, Nancy Jacobsen of New York City, Barbara Neal of La Porte, Texas, and Dorothy Jacobsen Jr. of Washington; a brother, Cyrus Mead iii of Highland Park, Ill., a sister, Barbara Prattis of Sheffield, Pa., and five grandchildren.