Arthur Howland Leavitt, 96, a former teacher and retired employe of the Central Intelligence Agency, died of cardiac arrest Monday at his home in McLean.

Mr. Leavitt began his government career with the State Department's Foreign Service in 1909 and was assigned to Turkey, Greece and Egypt before the first world war. He served as an Army aviator during the war and as a member of the U.S. mission to the Paris Peace Conference in 1918-19.

From 1926-34, he taught Latin and French in boys' preparatory schools.

In 1934, Mr. Leavitt joined the then newly established National Archives. He was chief of the division of Commerce Department archives until 1951, when he joined the CIA as a specialist on the Near East. He retired in 1954.

Mr. Leavitt was born in Spencer, Mass. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1907 and earned a master's degree in Romance Languages from Columbia University in 1931.

His wife, the former Edith Elsie Baker, died in 1962.

Survivors include two daughters, Ruth M. Blandin of Annapolis, and Anne E. Wilson of Randolph, N.H.; two sons, Peter P. of Woodstock, Conn., and John H. of McLean; three sisters, Edna Leavitt of Worcester, Mass., Marion Robertson of New Britain, Conn., and Gertrude Bowen of Eastford, Conn., 16 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.