GEORGE FREDERICK HOWE, 86, a retired senior historian of the National Security Agency who also had worked for the Interior Department and written official Army historical works, died of cancer Jan. 18 at Georgetown University Hospital. He lived in Washington and Harrisville, N.H.

Dr. Howe joined the NSA in 1954 as its first official historian. He supervised the compilation of classified histories and helped organize and establish a history program to ensure the collection of NSA activities. He retired from full-time work in 1971, but continued to work on agency projects until finally retiring in 1983.

He also was the author of the technical works and several books, including "Chester Arthur: A Quarter-Century of Machine Politics," and also wrote "Northwest Africa: Seizing the Initiative in the West," a volume in the Army's official history of World War II.

Dr. Howe began his government career in 1946 as a historical division researcher in the Army's Historical Branch. He transferred to the Interior Department in 1952, where he was a historian until joining the NSA.

He was a native of Vermont and a 1922 graduate of the University of Vermont, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He received a master's degree and a doctorate in American history at Harvard University. From 1926 to 1945, he taught at the University of Cincinnati.

He had been a committee chairman of the American Historical Association, a member of the executive committee and editorial board of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association, and a charter member of the Society of American Historians. He was a 1971 recipient of the NSA's meritorious civilian service award. In 1982, a cryptologic history fellowship was established in his name by the NSA.

His wife, the former Esther Babbitt, whom he married in 1927, died in 1984. Survivors include a daughter, Anne Willard Howe, of Washington; two brothers, Edward G., of Durham, N.C., and Laurence P., of Burlington, Vt.; a sister, Elizabeth Howe Putney, also of Burlington; four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Another daughter, Janet Howe Buttolph, predeceased him.

MARTHA T. JETT, 73, the retired chief of technical services for the Montgomery County public libraries, died of emphysema Jan. 16 at the Washington Adventist Hospital.

Mrs. Jett worked 18 years for the Montgomery County libraries before she retired in 1975.

A resident of Silver Spring, she was born in Dallas and graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman's College. She received a master's degree in library science at Drexel University.

Before moving to the Washington area shortly before World War II, she was a librarian at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Mrs. Jett was a Sunday school teacher and deacon at Christ Congregational Church in Silver Spring and a Girl Scout leader. She helped found the Widowed Persons Service in Montgomery County.

Survivors include her husband, Thomas Sutton Jett of Silver Spring; two daughters, Carol Louise Gosnell and Ann Henderson, both of Columbia, and five grandchildren.

ERNEST T. RICE, 80, a retired employee of the Acacia Mutual Life Insurance Co. and a lifelong resident of the Washington area, died of stroke and kidney ailments Jan. 18 at the Carriage Hill nursing home in Silver Spring.

Mr. Rice was born in Washington and he graduated from the old Business High School. During World War II he served in the Coast Guard. As a young man he joined his father in operating a produce stand at the Center Market.

In 1930, he went to work for Acacia. He retired in 1972 as agency secretary in the company's Washington headquarters.

Mr. Rice, a longtime resident of Silver Spring, was a member of the Colesville Lions Club and the Colesville United Methodist Church.

His wife, Webster Rice, died in 1975. A son, Ned Rice, died in 1981.

Survivors include one sister, Ida Bryant of Silver Spring.

DORIS GREGORY EDWARDS, 74, a teacher in the D.C. public school system from 1961 to 1970 and a longtime resident of the Washington area, died Jan. 16 at Holy Cross Hospital after a heart attack.

Mrs. Edwards, a resident of Silver Spring, was born in Pine Bluff, Ark. She grew up in Washington and graduated from Dunbar High School and Howard University. During her years as a teacher, she was assigned to Evans Junior High.

From 1970 to 1985, she lived in Glen Ridge, N.J. She returned here and settled in Silver Spring.

She was a member of various social and service organizations, including the Jack and Jills of America, the Northeasterners and the Smart Set.

Her first husband, Dr. Monroe Gregory, died in 1961.

Survivors include her husband, Dr. Thomas Edwards of Silver Spring; two children by her first marriage, Michael R. Gregory of Rockville and January Strauss of Baltimore; two stepchildren, Thomas Edwards of Long Island, N.Y., and Lynn E. Edwards of Silver Spring; one sister, Joan Moreno of Kensington; four brothers, John Risher Jr. of Silver Spring, Dr. Edward H. Risher of Pelham, N.Y., Watson R. Risher of Washington, and Fred W. Risher of Tucson, and two grandchildren.