Forensic Science and Methods of Identification by Dr. Scott Neff
mission statement
little guy Dr. Scott Neff
free samples
subscribe now!
contact us
bullet.gif (537 bytes) beat the press


    Methods of Criminal identification have progressed from the maiming and branding of early history, through the "photo-graphic memory" of law enforcement officers, through the 1870 introduction of the Bertillon measurements, to the present infallible system of positive identification through fingerprinting, dna mapping and retinal scanning. The Bertillon system was utilized for over 30 years but lost its reputation for reliability due to the West Brothers Identification   You will not only study the actual case, but the actual photo scan (e.g.  I added the golden color as it is a black and white FBI Alert who's age was appreciable.) I personally made of then FBI Director J.Egar Hoovers 1st national alert bulliton donated to the Academy by members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


Portrait Parle. 

     Portrait Parle is a holdover techniques from the Bertillon method of criminal identification by measurements of the human body and is still used to great advantage.  These two French words mean, "speaking likeness." Law enforcement officers are taught to be able to understand and appreciate the value of the head and facial differences in human beings. Every investigative file should contain a complete description of the suspect.

     A distinctive description of every feature of the face and head are especially valua­ble investigative techniques, especially when a set of the suspect's fingerprints is not available from his file.


The History of Fingerprint Identification

   Fingerprint identification predates the Christian era.  Ancient Babylonian fingerprints were impressed in clay tablets to record business transactions. The Chinese used fingerprints on legal documents in the 8th Century AD. Fingerprint reliability has been  repeatedly demonstrated through the ages.

     Dr. Nehemian Grew of the Royal College of Physicians astutely pointed out in 1684 that fingers possessed ridge patterns.   Marcello Malpighi, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Bologna, in 1686, using the newly invented microscope, commented upon "diverse figures on palmar surfaces, and loops and spirals."  Then, in 1823, John Evangelist Purkinje, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Breslau, wrote a thesis on the diversity of ridge patterns and identified nine variations in such patterns.

     It was not for another 35 years after Purkinje's scholarly treatise, that official utility of fingerprint documentation for identification was implemented.  Sir William James Herschel, British Chief Administrative Officer for the Hooghly district, Bengal, India, brought fingerprint technology into official police procedure.   He required the citizenry to affix their fingerprints, as well as their signatures, to legal documents.  From the outstanding success of the program in 1877, Herschel requested official permission to extend the use of fingerprinting as a means of identifying prisoners. Permission was withheld, but Herschel extended his system within his own province...although he did not produce a method of fingerprint classification.

     Concomitantly,  Dr. Henry Faulds, of Taukiji Hospital in Tokyo, began parallel observations during the same time frame. In 1880, a scientific journal, Nature, carried an article by Dr. Faulds in which he discussed criminal identification by means of fingerprints left at crime scenes. Faulds recommended the use of a thin film of printer's ink as a medium for transfer and detailed future possibilities of the science of fingerprinting. Faulds then performed a decisive demonstration of his theories by identifying the person responsible for drinking "booze" taken from the official supplies. This was one of the earliest latent fingerprint identifications.

     The first authentic record of official fingerprint use in the United States was 1882.  Gilbert Thompson of the United States Geological Survey placed his own fingerprint on official orders as a means of preventing their forgery. In 1883, Mark Twain published his book Life on the Mississippi, in which he related the identification of a murderer by his thumbprint; and in 1893, Twain's "Pudd'n-head Wilson" told the story of a court trial in which fingerprint identification proved its infallibility.

     In 1892, Sir Francis Galton, a renowned British anthropologist and a cousin of scientist Charles Darwin wrote Fingerprints the textbook.   His text illustrated a 12-year data pool of studies verifying fingerprint reliability and utility. This was the first time anyone had established both the individuality and the permanence of fingerprints. Galton also devised the first scientific classification of fingerprint patterns.

     Juan Vucetich, a noted criminologist as well as an Argentinean police official, using the patterns typed by Gaiton, first installed fingerprint files to provide official criminal identification. Fingerprinting was first used in conjunction with the Bertillon bodily-measurement system (pursuant to the West Brothers Cases above: 1903), but gradually replaced it. Note that the Vucetich system still forms the basis of the systems used in many countries today. In solving the Rojas murder case in 1892 at La Plata, Argentina, Vucetich holds the record for the first official criminal identification by the fingerprint method at a crime scene.

     In 1901, fingerprinting was introduced officially for purposes of criminal identification in England and Wales. It was based upon Galton's observations and devised by Mr. Edward Richard Henry, later to become Sir Henry, Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police. Henry produced a simplified fingerprint classification system, which was adapted to police needs. His system, and that of Vucetich, are the foundations of all present-day, 10-finger systems of fingerprint identification. Fingerprints were then classified according to a system devised by Sir Edward R. Henry. Scotland Yard first used his system in 1901 as the official identification method.

     In 1902, Dr. Henry P. DeForest, the American pioneer in the science of fingerprinting, introduced the practice of fingerprinting to the New York Civil Service Commission as a means of ensuring applicants for civil service testing. This was the first systematic use of fingerprinting in the United States and was followed, in 1903, by the first systematic use of fingerprints in criminal identification. In March 1903, the New York state prison took fingerprints for classification, and on June 5, 1903, it officially (Click on the link below to begin your study of Part II : The History of West Brothers Print Methodology Within the United States.) adopted the fingerprint system.


“The great aim of education is not knowledge but action”. Herbert Spencer

The White House, Washington


Thank you for your kind letter and generous words of support.

Working together, we will unify and strengthen our great Nation, honor our Government’s sacred duty to the people, and fulfill the promise of America for all of its citizens. United, we will achieve lasting change, peace through strength, and prosperity like never before.

Melania and I are forever grateful for your support. Your encouragement, and that of millions around the world, sustains us every step of the way. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

With very best wishes,

Donald Trump





© & TM 1998 American Academy for Justice Through Science. All rights reserved.

vfwim02.gif (4508 bytes)