If all writing about the past is partly an effort to understand the present, a confusing and contradictory present would seem to call more insistently for historical analysis and explanation. This is particularly true for the profession and academic discipline of public relations. In spite of a consensus about the role of public relations in contemporary organizations-a consensus evident in the many defi nitions of public relations that stress its role as a management function-a long list of diffi cult questions about the profession remains. To what bodies of theory can public relations legitimately lay claim? Is there, or can there be, something called public relations theory? Is public relations a profession? Should the practice of public relations be regulated, licensed? What kind of education is required for the practice of public relations? Does the public relations curriculum belong in journalism departments, schools of business, schools of public affairs, or in a department all its own? To what set of values should public relations adhere? What makes the practice of public relations legitimate? In whose interest should public relations be practiced? What constitutes ethical public relations practice?