John D. Newsom, author, editor and former national director of the Federal Writers Project of the old Works Progress Administration, died Saturday of a heart attack aboard the Home liner Roma on the way to Italy. Mr. Newsom was about 60 years old and recently had resided on a farm In Bucks County, Pa.
Mr. Newsom was born in Shanghai of American descent. He was reared in France and attended Cambridge University, England. For a time he was an anthropologist in Melanesia and later he lived in Morocco. He served as a captain in the British Army in France in World War I and as a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy in World War II.
In the Navy he served in the Pacific and as a liaison officer with our armies In Northern Africa and Southern France. His writings included a number of novels about the French Foreign Legion, including Legionnaires, Drums of the Legion, Cockney of the Legion, London Legionnaire and Wiped Out published in the Twenties and Thirties. From one of his stories was made a motion picture, Trouble in Morocco produced in 1937.
Mr. Newsom became Michigan director of the Federal Writers Project in 1938 and national director in 1939. He held the latter post for several years. Under him a series of encyclopedias of useful information about our various states was published.
After World War II, Mr. Newsome served Harcourt Brace & Co., Inc., book publishers here, as an associate editor, for a few years. He had intended to do literary work with Arthur Koest1er, the novelist, In Europe.
His widow survives.