A Brief History of Fingerprints

….courtesy of the US Marshall Service.

fingerprintwhorlsimg_0526What Type of Fingerprints do you have?

Fingerprint History:

Prehistoric picture writing of a hand with ridge patterns was discovered in Nova Scotia. In ancient Babylon, fingerprints were used on clay tablets for business transactions. In ancient China, thumb prints were found on clay seals.

In 14th century Persia, various official government papers had fingerprints (impressions), and one government official, a doctor, observed that no two fingerprints were exactly alike.

.

Marcello Malpighi – 1686

In 1686, Marcello Malpighi, a professor of anatomy at the University of Bologna, noted in his treatise; ridges, spirals and loops in fingerprints. He made no mention of their value as a tool for individual identification. A layer of skin was named after him; “Malpighi” layer, which is approximately 1.8mm thick.

.

John Evangelist Purkinji – 1823

us-marshals-service-2In 1823, John Evangelist Purkinji, a professor of anatomy at the University of Breslau, published his thesis discussing 9 fingerprint patterns, but he too made no mention of the value of fingerprints for personal identification.

.

Sir William Hershel – 1856

The English first began using fingerprints in July of 1858, when Sir William Herschel, Chief Magistrate of the Hooghly  district in Jungipoor, India, first used fingerprints on native contracts. On a whim, and with no thought toward personal identification, Herschel had Rajyadhar Konai, a local businessman, impress his hand print on the back of a contract.

The idea was merely “. . . to frighten [him] out of all thought of repudiating his signature.” The native was suitably impressed, and Herschel made a habit of requiring palm prints–and later, simply the prints of the right Index and Middle fingers–on every contract made with the locals. Personal contact with the document, they believed, made the contract more binding than if they simply signed it. Thus, the first wide-scale, modern-day use of fingerprints was predicated, not upon scientific evidence, but upon superstitious beliefs.

As his fingerprint collection grew, however, Herschel began to note that the inked impressions could, indeed, prove or disprove identity. While his experience with fingerprinting was admittedly limited, Sir 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.

Types of Fingerprints

Accidental

Central Pocket Loop

Double Loop

Loop

Plain Arch

PlainWhorl  

Tented Arch

 

Continue reading at the US Marshals Service Website.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s