History of Fingerprints

By @forensicfield


The Science of fingerprint identification stands out among all other Forensic Science techniques and methods for many reasons. The science of fingerprint identification or Dactylography began nearly 4,000 years ago. Fingerprints offer a reliable means of personal identification.
Lots of research have been done in this field to find accurate method and technique from many years.

  • Everything we touched, leave behind our unique impression on it, which is Our fingerprints.
  • Fingerprints are the tiny ridges, whorls and valley patterns on the tip of each fingers. They develop from pressure on a baby’s tiny, developing fingers in the womb.
  • Fingerprint identification also known as β€œDactyloscopy”.
  • No two people have exactly the same fingerprints. Even identical twins, with identical DNA, have different fingerprints.


✌The science of fingerprint identification stands out among all other forensic sciences for many reasons. Fingerprints offer a reliable means of personal identification. That is the essential explanation for fingerprints having replaced other methods of establishing the identities of persons reluctant to admit previous arrests. Nearly 4,000 years ago identification of fingerprint also known as DACTYLOGRAPHY, began in the β€œFertile Crescent,” (the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in present day Iraq).

πŸ‘‰ Here is a brief history of the evolution of fingerprints:

πŸ– King Hammurabi (1955-1913 BC) used finger seals on contracts and law officers of the day were authorized to secure fingerprints of arrested persons.

πŸ– Chinese historian Kia Kung-Yen wrote of fingerprints used in an older method of preparing contracts In AD 650, nearly 600 years before.

πŸ– An law book written by Yung-Hwui of the same period listed that, in a divorce decree the husband had to sign the document with his fingerprint.

πŸ– AD 1400s – Persia -The 14th century Persian book “Jaamehol-Tawarikh” (Universal History), attributed to Khajeh Rashiduddin Fazlollah Hamadani (1247-1318), includes comments about the practice of identifying persons from their fingerprints.

πŸ– BC 200s – China – Clay seals bearing friction ridge impressions were used during both the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 BC – 220 AD). Chinese records from the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) include details about using handprints as evidence during burglary investigations.

πŸ– 1788 – Mayer – German anatomist and doctor J. C. A. Mayer wrote the book Anatomical Copper-plates with Appropriate Explanations containing drawings of friction ridge skin patterns. Mayer was the first to declare that friction ridge skin is unique.

πŸ– 1823Jan Evangelista Purkinje – In 1823, Jan Evangelista Purkinje, anatomy professor at the University of Breslau, published his thesis discussing nine fingerprint patterns.

πŸ– 1858 –William Herschal – While working for the East India Company in Bengal, India. The English first began using fingerprints in July of 1858, when Sir William James Herschel, Chief Magistrate of the Hooghly district in Jungipoor, India, first used fingerprints on native contracts. Sir William Herschel’s private conviction that all fingerprints were unique to the individual, as well as permanent throughout that individual’s life, inspired him to expand their use.

πŸ– 1863Paul-Jean Coulier – Professor Paul-Jean Coulier, of Val-de-GrΓ’ce in Paris, published his observations that (latent) fingerprints can be developed on paper by iodine fuming. He further explained, how to preserve (fix) such developed impressions . He also mentioned the potential for identifying suspects’ fingerprints by use of a magnifying glass.

πŸ– 1877 – Thomas Taylor – American microscopist Thomas Taylor proposed that finger and palm prints left on any object might be used to solve crimes.

πŸ– 1880Henry Faulds – Dr. Henry Faulds, a Scottish doctor in Tokyo, Japan publishes article in β€œNature” Faulds wrote in Nature magazine that when bloody finger marks or impressions on clay, glass, etc. exist, they may lead to the scientific identification of criminals.

πŸ– 1882Alphonse Bertillion – 1882 – Alphonse Bertillion, a French anthropologist, devised method of body measurements to produce a formula used to classify individuals. This formula involves taking the measurements of a persons body parts, and recording these measurements on a card known as the Bertillion System.

πŸ– 1882 – Thompson – In 1882, Gilbert Thompson of the U.S. Geological Survey in New Mexico, used his own thumb print on a document to help prevent forgery. This is the first known use of fingerprints in the United States.

πŸ– 1883 Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) – In Mark Twain’s book, “Life on the Mississippi”, a murderer was identified by the use of fingerprint identification. In a later book, “Pudd’n Head Wilson”, there was a dramatic court trial including fingerprint identification.

πŸ– 1891 – Juan Vucetich – Juan Vucetich, Argentine Police Official, Initiated the fingerprinting of criminals. He began the first fingerprint files based on Galton pattern types. At first, Vucetich included the Bertillon System with the files.

πŸ– 1892- Sir Francis Galton – Sir Francis Galton, a British Anthropologist and cousin to Charles Darwin, publishes the first book on fingerprints. In his book, Galton identifies the individuality and uniqueness of fingerprints.

πŸ– 1892Eduardo Alvarez – At Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1892, Inspector Eduardo Alvarez made the first criminal fingerprint identification. He was able to identify Francisca Rojas, a woman who murdered her two sons and cut her own throat in an attempt to place blame on another. Her bloody print was left on a door post, proving her identity as the murderer.

πŸ– 1897Haque & Bose – Haque and Bose are the two Indian fingerprint experts credited with primary development of the Henry System of fingerprint classification (named for their supervisor, Edward Richard Henry).

πŸ– 1900 – E.R. Henry – The United Kingdom Home Secretary Office conducted an inquiry into “Identification of Criminals by Measurement and Fingerprints.” Mr. Edward Richard Henry appeared before the inquiry committee to explain the system published in his recent book “The Classification and Use of Fingerprints.β€œ The committee recommended adoption of fingerprinting as a replacement for the relatively inaccurate Bertillon system of anthropometric measurement.

πŸ– 1901 – The Fingerprint Branch at New Scotland Yard (Metropolitan Police) was created in July 1901 using the Henry System of Fingerprint Classification.

πŸ– 1902 – First Systematic Use Of Fingerprints In The U.S. By The New York Civil Service Commission For Testing. Dr. Henry P. Deforrest Pioneers U.S. Fingerprinting.

πŸ– 1903 – The William West – Upon investigation, there were indeed two men who looked very similar. Their names were William and Will West. Their Bertillon measurements were close enough to identify them as the same person. According to prison records publicized years later, the West men were apparently identical twin brothers and each had a record of correspondence with the same immediate family relatives. Their respective fingerprints were taken, compared, and they bore no resemblance. This unique case established the value of fingerprint identification in this country.

πŸ– 1904 – 1904 the St. Louis, Missouri, Police Department was the first agency to set up a fingerprint bureau. The complete file of some 810,000 records was turned over to the newly formed Identification Division of the F.B.I.

πŸ– 1905 -U.S. Military Adopts The Use Of Fingerprints – Police Agencies Began To Adopt The Use Of Fingerprints U.S. Department Of Justice Forms The Bureau Of Criminal Identification In Washington, DC To Provide A Centralized Reference Collection Of Fingerprint Cards.

πŸ– 1907 – U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Criminal Identification moves to Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary where it is staffed at least partially by inmates. U.S. Navy begins using fingerprints.

πŸ– 1908 – U.S. Marine Corps begins using fingerprints. Many of these agencies began sending copies of their fingerprint cards to the National Bureau of Criminal Identification, which was established by the International Association of Police Chiefs.

πŸ– 1910Frederick Brayley – In 1910, Frederick Brayley published the first American textbook on fingerprints, “Arrangement of Finger Prints, Identification, and Their Uses.”

πŸ– 1911 – Dec. 21, 1911, The Illinois State Supreme Court Upheld The Admissibility Of Fingerprint Evidence Concluding That Fingerprints Are A Reliable Form Of Identification.

πŸ– 1915Inspector Harry H. Caldwell of the Oakland, California Police Department’s Bureau of Identification wrote numerous letters to “Criminal Identification Operators” in August 1915, requesting them to meet in Oakland for the purpose of forming an organization to further the aims of the identification profession. In October 1915, a group of twenty-two identification personnel met and initiated the “International Association for Criminal Identification” In 1918, the organization was renamed the “International Association for Identificationβ€œ (IAI) due to the volume of non-criminal identification work performed by members.

πŸ– 1917 – First Palm print identification is made in Nevada. The bloody palm print, found on a letter left at the scene of a stage coach robbery and murder of its driver, was identified to Ben Kuhl.

πŸ– 1918- Edmond Locard – Edmond Locard Wrote That If 12 Points (Galton’s Details) Were The Same Between Two Fingerprints, It Would Suffice As A Positive Identification.

πŸ– 1924 – In 1924, An Act Of Congress Established The Identification Division Of The FBI. The Iacp’s National Bureau Of Criminal Identification And The US Justice Department’s Bureau Of Criminal Identification Consolidated To Form The Nucleus Of The FBI Fingerprint Files.

πŸ– 1940s – By the end of World War II, most American fingerprints experts agreed there was no scientific basis for a minimum number of corresponding minutiae to determine an “identification” and the twelve point rule was dropped from the FBI publication, “The Science of Fingerprints.”

πŸ– 1946 – By 1946, the FBI had processed 100 million fingerprint cards in manually maintained files; and by 1971, 200 million cards. With the introduction of Automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) technology, the files were later split into computerized criminal files and manually maintained civil files.

πŸ– 1973 – The International Association for Identification Standardization Committee authored a resolution stating that each identification is unique and no valid basis exists to require a minimum number of matching points in two friction ridge impressions to establish a positive identification. The resolution was approved by members at the 1973 annual conference.

πŸ– 1974 The Fingerprint Society – In 1974, four employees of the Hertfordshire (United Kingdom) Fingerprint Bureau contacted fingerprint experts throughout the UK and began organization of that country’s first professional fingerprint organization, the National Society of Fingerprint Officers. The organization initially consisted of only UK experts, but quickly expanded to international scope and was renamed The Fingerprint Society in 1977.

πŸ– 1977 – At New Orleans, Louisiana on 1 August 1977, delegates to the 62nd Annual Conference of the International Association for Identification (IAI) voted to establish the world’s first certification program for fingerprint experts. Since 1977, the IAI’s Latent Print Certification Board has proficiency tested thousands of applicants, and periodically proficiency tests all IAI Certified Latent Print Examiners (CLPEs).

πŸ– 1980 – First computer data base of fingerprints was developed, which came to be known as the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, (AFIS). In the present day, there nearly 70 million cards, or nearly 700 million individual fingerprints entered in AFIS

πŸ– 1995 – At the International Symposium on Latent Fingerprint Detection and Identification, conducted by the Israeli National Police Agency, at Neurim, Israel, June, 1995, the Neurim Declaration was issued.

πŸ– 2012 – INTERPOL’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System repository exceeds 150,000 sets of fingerprints for important international criminal records from 190 member countries. Over 170 countries have 24 x 7 interface ability with INTERPOL expert fingerprint services

πŸ– 2016America’s Largest Databases – The largest AFIS repository in America is operated by the Department of Homeland Security’s US Visit Program, containing over 120 million persons’ fingerprints, many in the form of two-finger records. NGI has more than 60 million individual computerized fingerprint records (both criminal and civil applicant records).

πŸ– The Unique Identification Authority Of India Is The World’s Largest Fingerprint (And Largest Multi-modal Biometric) System Using Fingerprint, Face And Iris Biometric Records.
πŸ– India’s Unique Identification Project Is Also Known As Aadhaar, A Word Meaning “The Foundation” In Several Indian Languages.
πŸ– Aadhaar Is A Voluntary Program, With The Goal Of Eventually Providing Reliable National Id Documents To Most Of India’s 1.2 Billion Residents.
πŸ– Since 2010, The Authority Has Issued More Than 1.07 Billion (More Than 107 Crore) Aadhaar Numbers.

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History of Fingerprints

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