James Alport Donovan jr., 64, the archivist of the International Communication Agency and a former State Department official and FBI agent, died of cancer Friday at the Washington Hospital Center.

In addition to his federal work, Mr. Donovan was a member of the Alexandria School Board from 1961 to 1967, a position to which he has appointed by the Alexandria City Council, and chairman of the Alexandria Advisory Committee on Adult Education from 1964 to 1967. He was a trustee of the Greater Washington Educational Television: Association from 1954 to 1967. A native of Buffalo, he lived in Washington at the time of his death.

Mr. Donovan graduated from Yale University in 1937 with a degree in German. Until 1940, he studied linguistics at Yale and at the Linguistic Institute of the University of Michigan.

In 1941, he became a special agent in the FBI. Because of his language skills, he was assigned to translate captured German documents and to interview German prisoners of war. Among the places he worked were Seattle, San Antonio and New York City.

In 1946, he resigned from the bureau and joined the State Department. He remained in the department's bureau of educational and cultural affairs until 1978, when the bureau and the U.S. Iinformation Agency were merged to form the International Communication Agency.

Mr. Donovan's first work at State involved bringing German students to the United States as a part of the postwar democratization program. From 1960 to 1972, he was staff director of the U.s. Advisory Commission on International Educational and Cultural Affairs. He was director of the special projects staff from 1972 to 1973 and director of the history project in the educational and cultural affairs bureau from 1973 until the ICA was formed.

In 1959, he received the State Department's Meritorious Service Award.

Mr. Donovan was a member of the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI and the founder and editor of The Samuel Butler Newsletter, which publishes matters of interest to admirers of that 19th century author. He also was a member of the Thoreau Society.

Mr. Donovan's marriage to the former Abbie Daggett Morse ended in divorce.

Survivors included his wife, Katherin C., of Washington; two sons by his first marriage, Peter, of Westport, Conn., and Patrick, of Alexandria; one stepdaughter, Stephanie B. Kulinski of Shaker Heights, Ohio; two sisters, Betty Donovan Tuck of Tonawanda, N.Y., and Barbara Donovan Franklin of Olympia Fields, Ill.; one grandchild; and three stepgrandchildren.