How Was Fingerprinting Invented and When?

No two people have the same pattern of marks on the tips of their fingers, not even identical twins. This discovery revolutionized crime detection. Caught Red-Handed.

A scientist called Nehemiah Grew was the first person to study people’s fingertip patterns and he published a book of drawings of them in 1684. It was nearly 200 years before anyone realized how useful this might be.

In the 1860s an English civil servant called William Herschel became interested in fingertip patterns and discovered that people’s fingerprints remain the same for life. His findings were published in a scientific journal.

Francis Galton, an explorer and anthropologist, devised a system of grouping fingerprints by the different characteristics in their patterns.
Police officer Edward Henry used Galton’s system to create a comprehensive classification of fingerprints, which was published in 1900.

The following year the first United Kingdom Fingerprint Bureau was set up in Scotland Yard, the UK police headquarters.
Fingerprints were taken and collected together so that prints found at crime scenes could be used to link suspects with the scene of the crime.

In 1905 fingerprinting was used for the first time to convict criminals in a murder case, in a robbery and double murder in London.
Since then, fingerprints have been used countless times to prosecute criminals all over the world.

Wrapped around your finger. Francis Galton thought that fingerprints might be a sign of a person’s intelligence. He designed his system of classifying prints for measuring intelligence – but instead it was used for catching criminals.

When dusting for prints, use cocoa powder (the powder doesn’t have to be white as long as it is fine) and a fine brush. Dusting works best on glass or smooth surfaces. Finally, match the prints up to the correct culprit and clear your name!

Before you attempt this, print this page several times, then leave your fingerprints.

On the copies, take prints of the rest of your family and friends and file them away in a crime folder. When you get blamed for a crime you didn’t commit, dust for prints and find the real culprit.

In the Wild West dynamite was hijacked by criminals and used for bank heists, safe-cracking and train robberies.

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