A complete, confidential and inexpensive means to create
a comprehensive personal record of a child. Great for recording
a child's vital identification information and promoting
your organization in the process.
~1000-2000 B.C. -
Fingerprints were used on clay tablets for business transactions
in ancient Babylon.
Century B.C. - Thumbprints
begin to be used on clay seals in China to “sign” documents.
A.D. - During
the T’ang Dynasty, a time when imperial China was
one of the most powerful and wealthy regions of the world,
fingerprints are reportedly used on official documents.
Century A.D. - A
petroglyph located on a cliff face in Nova Scotia depicts
a hand with exaggerated ridges and finger whorls, presumably
left by the Mi'kmaq people.
Century A.D. - Many
official government documents in Persia have fingerprint
impressions. One government physician makes the observation
that no two fingerprints were an exact match.
the University of Bologna in Italy, a professor of anatomy
named Marcello Malpighi notes the common characteristics
of spirals, loops and ridges in fingerprints, using the
newly invented microscope for his studies. In time, a
1.88mm thick layer of skin, the “Malpighi layer,” was
named after him. Although Malpighi was likely the first
to document types of fingerprints, the value of fingerprints
as identification tools was never mentioned in his writings.
thesis is published by Johannes Evengelista Purkinje,
professor of anatomy with the University of Breslau,
Prussia. The thesis details a full nine different fingerprint
patterns. Still, like Malpighi, no mention is made of
fingerprints as an individual identification method.
Chief Magistrate of the Hooghly district in Jungipoor,
India, Sir William Herschel, first used fingerprints
to “sign” contracts with native Indians.
In July of 1858, a local businessman named Rajyadhar
Konai put his hand print on the back of a contract at
Herschel’s request. Herschel was not motivated
by the need to prove personal identity; rather, his motivation
was to simply “frighten (Konai) out of all thought
of repudiating his signature.” As the locals felt
more bound to a contract through this personal contact
than if it was just signed, as did the ancient Babylonians
and Chinese, Herschel adopted the practice permanently.
Later, only the prints of the right index and middle
fingers were required on contracts. In time, after viewing
a number of fingerprints, Herschel noticed that no two
prints were exactly alike, and he observed that even
in widespread use, the fingerprints could be used for
personal identification purposes.
Henry Faulds, a British surgeon and Superintendent of
Tsukiji Hospital in Tokyo, published an article in the
Scientific Journal, "Nautre" (nature). He discussed fingerprints
as a means of personal identification, and the use of
printers ink as a method for obtaining such fingerprints.
Faulds had begun his study of what he called “skin-furrows” during
the 1870s after looking at fingerprints on pieces of
old clay pottery. He is also credited with the first
fingerprint identification: a greasy print left by a
laboratory worker on a bottle of alcohol. Soon, Faulds
began to recognize that the distinctive patterns on fingers
held great promise as a means of individual identification,
and developed a classification system for recording these
inked impressions. Also in 1880, Faulds sent a description
of his fingerprint classification system to Sir Charles
Darwin. Darwin, aging and in poor health, declined to
assist Dr. Faulds in the further study of fingerprints,
but forwarded the information on to his cousin, British
scientist Sir Francis Galton.
Thompson, employed by the U.S. Geological Survey in New
Mexico, uses his own fingerprints on a document to guard
against forgery. This event is the first known use of
fingerprints for identification in America.
on the Mississippi,” a novel by Mark Twain, tells
the story of a murderer who is identified by the use
of fingerprints. His later book "Pudd'n Head Wilson” includes
a courtroom drama involving fingerprint identification.
Francis Galton’s began his study of fingerprints
during the 1880s, primarily to develop a tool for determining
genetic history and hereditary traits. Through careful
study of the work of Faulds, which he learned of through
his cousin Sir Charles Darwin, as well as his examination
of fingerprints collected by Sir William Herschel, Galton
became the first to provide scientific evidence that
no two fingerprints are exactly the same, and that prints
remain the same throughout a person’s lifetime.
He calculated that the odds of finding two identical
fingerprints were 1 in 64 billion.
book “Fingerprints” is published, the first
of its kind. In the book, Galton detailed the first classification
system for fingerprints; he identified three types (loop,
whorl, and arch) of characteristics for fingerprints
(also known as minutia). These characteristics are to
an extent still in use today, often referred to as Galton’s
Vucetich, an Argentine police official, had recently
begun keeping the first fingerprint files based on Galton’s
Details. History was made that year when Vucetich made
the first criminal fingerprint identification. A woman
named Rojas had murdered her two sons, then cut her own
throat to deflect blame from herself. Rojas left a bloody
print on a doorpost. After investigators matched the
crime scene print to that of the accused, Rojas confessed.
Vucetich eventually developed his own system of classification,
and published a book entitled Dactiloscopía Comparada
("Comparative Fingerprinting") in 1904, detailing the
Vucetich system, still the most used system in Latin
official Sir Edward Richard Henry had been living in
Bengal, and was looking to use a system similar to that
of Herschel’s to eliminate problems within his
jurisdiction. After visiting Sir Francis Galton in England,
Henry returned to Bengal and instituted a fingerprinting
program for all prisoners. By July of 1896, Henry wrote
in a report that the classification limitations had not
yet been addressed. A short time later, Henry developed
a system of his own, which included 1,024 primary classifications.
Within a year, the Governor General signed a resolution
directing that fingerprinting was to be the official
method of identifying criminals in British India.
in England and Wales, the success of the “Henry
Fingerprint Classification System” in India was
creating a stir, and a committee was formed to review
Scotland Yard's identification methods. Henry was then
transferred to England, where he began training investigators
to use the Henry Classification System after founding
Scotland Yard's Central Fingerprint Bureau. Within a
few years, the Henry Classification System was in use
around the world, and fingerprints had been established
as the uniform system of identification for the future.
The Henry Classification System is still in use today
in English speaking countries around the globe.
Bertillon, director of the Bureau of Identification of
the Paris Police, is responsible for the first criminal
identification of a fingerprint without a known suspect.
A print taken from the scene of a homicide was compared
against the criminal fingerprints already on file, and
a match was made, marking another milestone in law enforcement
technology. Meanwhile, the New York Civil Service Commission,
spearheaded by Dr. Henry P. DeForrest, institutes testing
of the first systematic use of fingerprints in the United
technology comes into widespread use in the United States,
as the New York Police Department, the New York State
Prison system and the Federal Bureau of Prisons begin
working with the new science.
St. Louis Police Department and the Leavenworth State
Penitentiary in Kansas start utilizing fingerprinting,
assisted by a Sergeant from Scotland Yard who had been
guarding the British Display at the St. Louis Exposition.
U.S. Army gets on the fingerprinting bandwagon, and within
three years was joined by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
In the ensuing 25 years, as more law enforcement agencies
joined in using fingerprints as personal identification
methods, these agencies began sending copies of the fingerprint
cards to the recently established National Bureau of
first central storage location for fingerprints in North
America is established in Ottawa by Edward Foster of
the Dominion Police Force. The repository is maintained
by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and while it originally
held only 2000 sets of fingerprints, today the number
is over 2 million.
U.S. Congress acts to establish the Identification Division
of the F.B.I. The National Bureau and Leavenworth are
consolidated to form the basis of the F.B.I. fingerprint
repository. By 1946, the F.B.I. had processed 100 million
fingerprint cards; that number doubles by 1971.
or Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems, begin
widespread use around the country. This computerized
system of storing and cross-referencing criminal fingerprint
records would eventually become capable of searching
millions of fingerprint files in minutes, revolutionizing
law enforcement efforts.
Americans become more concerned with the growing missing
and abducted children problem, and law enforcement groups
urge the fingerprinting of children for investigative
purposes in the event of a child becoming missing, Chris
Migliaro founds Fingerprint America in Albany, NY. The
company provides a simple, at-home fingerprinting and
identification kit for parents, maintaining the family’s
privacy while protecting and educating children about
the dangers of abduction. By 2001, the company distributes
over 5 million Child ID Fingerprinting Kits around the
FBI phases out the use of paper fingerprint cards with
their new Integrated AFIS (IAFIS) site at Clarksburg,
West Virginia. IAFIS will starts with individual computerized
fingerprint records for approximately 33 million criminals,
while the outdated paper cards for the civil files are
kept at a facility in Fairmont, West Virginia.