George Crossette, 74, retired chief of the geographic research division of the National Geographic Society, died Oct. 16 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. He had kidney ailments.

Mr. Crossette joined National Geographic in 1938 as a researcher in its cartographic division. He directed the geographic research division from its formation in 1953 until he retired in 1972, and in that capacity was responsible for the accuracy of all geographic information in the society's magazine, books and other publications.

He compiled and standardized statistical information on most of the world's physical features, from the lengths of rivers to the heights of mountains, and his reputation for extensive geographic knowledge often made him an arbiter of geographic disagreements for other organizations, such as newspapers, engineering firms and travel groups.

In retirement, Mr. Crossette, a resident of Kensington, had continued a longstanding interest in wildlife and conservation and had written several articles on these topics.

He was born in Chicago and grew up in Washington, where he attended McKinley Technical High School and graduated from George Washington University.

He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association of Geographers, the National Wildlife Federation, the National Rifle Association and the Cosmos Club, of which he had been president in 1978.

Mr. Crossette is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, of Kensington; a daughter, Anne DeOrsey of Potomac, and four grandchildren.