James Raymond Masterson, 76, a former editor of "Writings in American History," an annual bibliography of historical research on the United States, died Wednesday at George Washington University Hospital. He had emphysema.

He was editor of the "Writings," published by the American Historical Association, from 1949 until retiring in 1973. During that period, the "Writings" for 1948 through 1968 were published under his editorship as volume 2 of the association's annual report.

During the same period, Dr. Masterson also worked intermittently as archivist for the National Historical Publications Commission.

He was born in Allegan County, Mich. He was a graduate of Western Michigan College in Kalamazoo and earned his master's and doctor's degrees in English from Harvard University. He taught at Western Michigan and then Hillsdale College in Michigan, before coming to Washington in 1942.

During the 1940s, he prepared records of the U.S. Navy for microfilming in the the National Archives, selected material on Army uniforms for preservation in the heraldic section of the office of the Quartermaster General and wrote a history of U.S. Army transportation in the southwest Pacific in 1941-47 for the historical division of the Army.

Dr. Masterson had published "Tall Tales of Arkansas", which later was reprinted as "Arkansas Folkore," and a satire, "Federal Prose, How to Write in and/or for Washington" written in collaboration with Brooks Phillips.

He is survived by a sister, Majorie F. Abbott of Battle Creek, Mich.