What kind of explanation does history promote? Does history give us an advantage in dealing with current as well as bygone problems? These two different questions assume very similar burdens when historians defend the “usefulness” of their writing and research. The demand that history be “useful” impinges especially hard on the profession today in the areas of educational and black history. The reasons are, or should be, obvious. What is less obvious at the moment is which of the many meanings of “useful” do historians find most compelling. In the past, the professional and educational role of the historian has been largely affected by the questions he poses to deal with in the “usefulness” of his discipline.