Dr. Winslow Roper Hatch, 72, a retired official of the U.S. Office of Education and a historian of Fairfax County, died Sunday at his home in McLean. He had a heart ailment.

Dr. Hatch moved to the Washington area in 1958 to become director of the Clearinghouse of Studies of the Office of Education. He held that position until his retirement in 1971.

After leaving the government, Dr. Hatch devoted much of his time to studying the history of the McLean area of Fairfax County. His particular interest was the location of old roads and historic sites and his volunteer assistants included members of the local chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons. His book, "Old Roads and New Insights," is scheduled for publication this fall.

Dr. Hatch was a member of the Historical Society of Fairfax County. He was the first recipient of the Distinguished Service Award of the Fairfax County History Commission.

A native of Lexington, Mass., Dr. Hatch was a graduate of Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. He earned a doctorate in botany at Johns Hopkins University and was a National Research Fellow at Harvard University. He then returned to Dartmouth to teach.

From 1939 to 1955, he was at Washington State University, where he headed the botany department and was associate dean of the college of arts and sciences. From 1955 until he joined the U.S. Office of Education, he was dean of the college of education at Boston University.

Dr. Hatch's survivors include his wife, the former Dita Keith, of McLean; three children, Robert W., of Minneapolis, John K., of Ann Arbor, Mich., and Rosita Alvarado Hiscox, of Phoenix, Ariz., and six grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Winslow R. Hatch Scholarship Fund, 1916 Beulah Rd., Vienna, Va., 22180.