Prof. Walter Rundell Jr., 53, a member of the history faculty at the University of Maryland since 1971 and the president of the Western History Association and a past president of the Society of American Archivists, died Oct. 25 at his home in University Park after a heart attack.

He was chairman of Maryland's history department from 1971 to 1976.

Prof. Rundell published works on military finance, oil, the American West and the use of archives. One of his books, "In Pursuit of American History," which was a study of the use of archives and manuscripts by historians, won the 1971 Waldo G. Leland Prize.

He was a native of Austin, Tex., and earned bachelor's degrees in music literature and journalism at the University of Texas. He received master's and doctoral degrees in American history at American University. From 1955 to 1957, he was a historical officer in the office of the Army's chief of finance.

Prof. Rundell was assistant executive secretary of the American Historical Association from 1961 to 1965. He then spent two years as director of the survey of the use of original sources in the National Archives' graduate history-training program. He was at the University of Oklahoma and was chairman of the history department at Iowa State University before joining the University of Maryland.

He also had taught at American, Columbia and Emory universities.

Prof. Rundell was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Hyattsville, where he sang in the choir. He was a member of the National Cathedral Choral Society and the University of Maryland chorus.

Survivors include his wife, Deanna, two daughters, Shelley and Jennifer, all of University Park; a son, David, who is a Navy enlisted man aboard the carrier Forrestal, and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Rundell of Austin.