Fingerprints are impressions of the friction ridges on all parts of the fingers. A friction ridge is the raised portion of the epidermis on the palm or digits (fingers and toes) or plantar (sole) skin. The prints, when pressed onto a soft substance, result in an impression called plastic prints. Usually, prints contaminated with oil or blood give clear replicas, while hidden prints (latent prints) are found using chemicals, powders or alternate source lights. Fingerprinting, to identify people, has been used since a much longer time than people actually realized. Later on, they came to be used to identify criminals. Read through the following lines to know more interesting and amazing information on the history, origin and background of fingerprinting.
Interesting & Amazing Information On Origin & Background Of Fingerprints
Fingerprints can be dated back to the ancient Babylon, where they were used on clay tablets, for business transactions. Thumb prints have also been found on ancient Chinese clay seals. In the 14th century, various official government papers were discovered with fingerprints in Persia. One government doctor went ahead in observing that no two fingerprints were the same. In 1686, a professor of anatomy at the University of Bologna, Marcello Malpighi noted the ridges, spirals and loops in fingerprints. Though he did not mention their value in individual identification, a layer of skin was named after him as “Malpighi”, which was approximately 1.8 mm thick.
Another professor of anatomy at the University of Breslau, John Evangelist Purkinji published a thesis mentioning the 9 different fingerprint patterns in 1823, although even he did not discuss their importance. Finally, in 1858, fingerprints were first used by Sir William Herschel, Chief Magistrate of the Hooghly District in India, on native contracts. During the 1870s, a British surgeon named Dr. Henry Faulds studied fingerprints & recognized them as a means of identification. He also designed a sample of forms for recording inked impressions. He then published an article discussing the same in 1880 and came to be credited for the first fingerprint identification, of a greasy fingerprint left on an alcohol bottle.
The first known use of fingerprints was done by Gilbert Thompson in the year 1882, where he used his own fingerprints on a document, in order to prevent forgery. In 1888, a British anthropologist named Sir Francis Galton published a book titled “Fingerprints”, which discussed the individuality and classification of fingerprints, the very first in its kind. Fingerprints then came to be used for criminal identification in England and Wales, in the year 1901. The fingerprints were systematically used first in 1902, by the New York Civil Service Commission.
Eventually, in the years that followed, fingerprints gradually came into use by the US Army, US Navy and Marine Corp. The year 1924 saw the establishment of the Identification Division of FBI. FBI processed 100 million fingerprint cards by 1946 and by 1971, they had 200 million cards as well. In 2005, paper finger cards were used for processing all identification purposes. The year 2009 saw the introduction of handheld, portable identification devices that allowed the police to capture and process fingerprints that were taken from suspects, whom they had arrested. Today, they are widely being used for safety as well as investigation purposes.