Ernest Posner, 87, a retired dean and professor at American Universtiy and a former government consultant who was the preceptor to generations of American archivists, died of circulatory insufficiency Friday at his home in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Dr. Posner was a native of Berlin. He earned a doctoral degree at the University of Berlin in 1920, than worked as an archivist for the Prussian State Archives before coming to this country in 1939.

Before coming here he had gained a reputation as an archives administrator and writer. He had written about the holding of the Privy State Archives at Berlin-Dahlem and had lectured at the Royal Swedish State Archives.

After coming to Washington, he joined the faculty of American University.

After World War II, he served at various times as history department chairman, dean of the graduate school, and director of the School of Social Science and Public Affairs. He retired in 1961.

Meyer H. Fishbein, now director of the military archives division of the National Archives, said "Dr. Posner's American University course, 'The History and Current Administration of Archives,' became part of the required training program for the staff during the 1940s and ealy 1950s."

The National Archives, as a repository for the documentary history of this country, had been established in 1934. Dr. Posner's influence on its operation and organization was profound.

Dr. James B. Rhoads, former archivist of the United States, explained that Dr. Posner "was my professional mentor. Probably no man had more influence on the developement of archival theory and practice in the United States. No educator in the field of archives in this country has had as profound and influence as he."

Dr. Posner made a specialized contribution to this country's war planning during World War I. He was the author of the 1943 work, "Public Records Under Military Occupation," and served on government commissions established to salvage and protect artistic and historic works in what became a part of Europe under Allied control.

He also wrote War Department manuals on German and Italian record-keeping practices and advised theArmy's Department Records Branch on German documents that were used later as evidence at war crimes trials.

Dr. Posner was president of the Society of American Archivist in the mid-1960s, and a member of the organizing committee of the International Council on Archives.

In 1967, he was awarded the Great Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1968, the American Association for State and Local History gave him its award of distinction, citing him for being responsible, more than any other person, for the development of the archival profession in this country.

Dr. Posner served in the German Army during World War I on both the Western and Eastern fronts. He received the Iron Cross I and II class. w

With the advent of the Nazis in 1933, Dr. Posner's life became a difficult one. He was a Jew, and shortly after the "Krystallnacht" of November, 1938, he was thrown into the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.His wife, Katherina, workef for his release. Because of his service as an archivist and because of his war decorations, he was freed from the camp and allowed to leave the country.

American scholars, including Eugene Anderson, Sammuel Flagg Bemis, and Merle Curti, worked for his admission to this country and helped him obtain work at American University.

One of Dr. Posner's last works was "Archives of the Ancient World," published in 1973, tracing the archival methods and remains of ancient civilizations.

After retiring from American University, Dr. Posner continued to travel and write. In recent years he had lived in Europe.

His wife died in October 1979. There are no immediate survivors.