ANTONIO: She that is queen of Tunis; she that dwells
Ten leagues beyond man's life; she that from Naples
Can have no note, unless the sun were post--
The man i' the moon's too slow--till new-born chins
Be rough and razorable; she that--from whom?
We all were sea-swallow'd, though some cast again,
And by that destiny to perform an act
Whereof what's past is prologue, what to come
In yours and my discharge.
~Shakespeare (The Tempest Act II Scene I)
Most people, if they think about the National Archives at all, think of it as the big, grand building in downtown Washington, D.C. On that building, and on statues around it, there are inscriptions, one of which says: "What is Past is Prologue." Whenever I see that, I can't help but think of the experience shared by William O. Douglas, the former Supreme Court Justice, about riding in a cab one day up Pennsylvania Avenue past the Archives. Seeing the inscription, "'What is Past is Prologue," Douglas wondered out loud what it might mean. To which the cabbie replied, "It means you ain't seen nothin' yet."
Well, you ain't seen nothin' yet if that's all you've seen of the National Archives.
~JOHN W. CARLIN, Archivist of the United States
Address to the 7th Annual Managing Electronic Records Conference
Chicago, Illinois 8:30 a.m. 29 September 1999
Also, the James Cagney film "13 Rue Madeleine"~(1946)
The "Past is Prologue" quote is featured prominently in the film.