Manoel Cardozo, 73, former chairman of the department of history at Catholic University and the curator of the Oliveira Lima Library there, died Dec. 14 at Washington Hospital Center of complications of leukemia.

Dr. Cardozo retired from the teaching faculty at Catholic University in 1978, but he continued to serve as curator of the Lima Library until his death.

That library, established by Brazilian diplomat, journalist and historian Oliveira Lima in 1916, contains an extensive collection of Brazilian material from 1500 to the present. It includes a 1641 printed description of the discovery of the Amazon River, diplomatic manuscripts from the War of the Spanish Succession, publications of the Brazilian Historical and Geographical Institute since the mid-19th century, and records of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies and Senate dating from 1823. Dr. Cardozo had been curator of the library since 1940.

Born in the Azores, he came to the United States as a child and was raised in California. He graduated from Stanford University, where he also earned a doctorate in history. He taught at the University of California at Berkeley and in Lisbon before coming to Catholic University in 1940.

He was chairman of the department of history from 1961 to 1971 and was a member of the Academic Senate from 1965 to 1969.

Survivors include a brother, Wallace James Cardozo of San Jose, and a sister, Lucille Vivian Reader of San Bernardino, Calif.