O.B. Hardison, 61, a Georgetown University literature professor who served as head of the Folger Shakespeare Library from 1969 to 1983, died of cancer Aug. 5 at Georgetown University Hospital. He lived in Washington.

Dr. Hardison was a native of San Diego. He received bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of North Carolina and a doctorate in English literature from the University of Wisconsin.

He taught English literature at the University of North Carolina for 12 years before coming to Washington as Folger Library director in 1969. He retired from the Folger in 1983, and the next year he joined the faculty at Georgetown. He was a professor of English at the time of his death.

He was the author of books on criticism, theater, English literature, poetry, the medieval world, the Renaissance and the modern relationship of culture to technology. He also contributed articles to journals such as Renaissance Quarterly, the Sewanee and Georgia reviews, the New York Review of Books, the New York Times and The Washington Post's Book World section.

The Folger Library, an interationally known center of Shakespearean research, is administered by Amherst College. When Dr. Hardison took over its direction in 1961, it was primarily for scholars and known for its book collection.

Dr. Hardison oversaw enormous expansion of its resources and opened the Library's doors wider to the general public. He helped establish the Folger Theater Group as a leading area cultural resource and established a popular series of poetry readings. He also introduced the Folger Consort, a group of musicians specializing in medieval and Renaissance offerings.

He was instrumental in the formation of the Folger Institute of Renaissance and 18th Century Studies, oversaw the establishment of a docent program and saw the Shakespeare Quarterly make the Library its home.

Over the years, he became as adept as fund-raising as he was in his more scholarly pursuits. The library's annual income increased from about $20,000 to more than $1 million annually. He left the institution with an endowment of more than $50 million. He also directed the campaign that raised $8.5 million for an expansion and physical plant improvement of the library.

He told a Post reporter, after leaving the Folger, that his two proudest achievements were acquiring a first edition (1684) of Isaac Newton's "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica" and getting the theater fireproofed.

Before coming to Washington, Dr. Hardison had an enviable reputation as a writer and teacher. An authority on medieval and Renaissance history and literature, he was an expert on the life, time and work of John Milton and had been hailed by Time magazine as one of the country's outstanding college instructors.

His first book, a volume of poetry entitled "Lyrics and Elegies," was published in 1958. His most recent book, published by Viking in 1989, was "Disappearing Through the Skylight -- Culture and Technology in the Twentieth Century." A combination of philosophy, literature, history and science, it was one in a series of books he was writing on man's history and evolution. Another in the series was "Entering the Maze: Identity and Change in Modern Culture," published by Oxford University Press in 1981.

Other books included "Christian Rite and Christian Drama," published by Johns Hopkins University Press, "Praise and Eloquence in Renaissance Literary Theory" and "Praise in Renaissance Literature," which was an expansion of his doctoral dissertation. He also had been an associate editor of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics.

Dr. Hardison was a past president of the Renaissance Society of America, the Shakespeare Association of America and the Washington English-Speaking Union. He was a former chairman of the National Humanities Alliance. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and had been a Fulbright and Guggenheim fellow and a recipient of awards from the British and Italian goverments.

Survivors include his wife, the former Marifrances Fitzgibbon, of Washington; six children, Sarah Hardison O'Connor of Staunton, Va., Laura Hardison Willumsen of Wheeling, W.Va., Agnes Hardison-Sanchez of New York City, Osborne Hardison III of Santa Cruz, Calif., Matthew Hardison of Reston and Charity Hardison Moschopoulos of Washington; a brother, William Gerry Hardison of San Diego; and eight grandchildren.

SIDNEY A. PETERS

Navy Dept. Architect and Engineer

Sidney A. Peters, 87, a retired Navy Department naval architect and marine engineer, died of a heart ailment Aug. 3 at the Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg. He lived in Potomac.

He spent 30 years with the Navy Department, working in the Bureau of Ships here, before retiring in 1970. He was a recipient of the department's Distinguished Civilian Service Award.

Mr. Peters was a native of New York City and a 1924 graduate of the Webb Institute of Naval Architecture in New York. Before coming here in 1940, he had worked in New York for construction companies, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the subway system.

He was a member of the American Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.

Survivors include his wife, Marianne, of Potomac; three sons, John C., of Clinton, James V., of Eulass, Tex., and William S., of Forest Hills, N.Y.; a daughter, Nancy A. Anderson of Abingdon, Md.; and eight grandchildren.