Ancient artifacts including carvings similar to friction ridge skin have been discovered in many places throughout the world. 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.
Handprints were used as evidence during burglary investigations during the Qin Dynasty. This was done using clay seals bearing friction ridge impressions.
Jaamehol-Tawarikh by Khajeh Rashiduddin Fazlollah Hamadani comments about the practice of identifying persons from their fingerprints.
Friction ridge skin observations were first published in "Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London" by Dr. Nehemiah Grew. Also done in "Anatomy of the Human Body" by Govard Bidloo. In Marcello Malpighi's treatise, fingerprint ridges, spirals and loops are mentioned
German anatomist and doctor J. C. A. Mayer wrote the book Anatomical Copper-plates with Appropriate Explanations containing drawings of friction ridge skin patterns. Mayer was the first to declare that friction ridge skin is unique.
Purkinje published his thesis discussing nine fingerprint patterns but made no mention of the value of fingerprints for personal identification.
Sir William James Herschel used fingerprints on native contracts. Thus, the first wide-scale, modern-day use of fingerprints was predicated, not upon scientific evidence, but upon superstitious beliefs. Sir William 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.
Professor Paul-Jean Coulier published his observations that (latent) fingerprints can be developed on paper by iodine fuming, explaining how to preserve (fix) such developed impressions and mentioning the potential for identifying suspects' fingerprints by use of a magnifying glass
Faulds took up the study of "skin-furrows" after noticing finger marks on specimens of "prehistoric" pottery. He recognized the importance of fingerprints as a means of identification, but devised a method of classification as well. Dr. Henry Faulds published an article in the Scientific Journal, "Nature" (nature). He discussed fingerprints as a means of personal identification, and the use of printers ink as a method for obtaining such fingerprints. He is also credited with the first fingerprint identification of a greasy fingerprint left on an alcohol bottle.
Thomas Taylor proposed that finger and palm prints left on any object might be used to solve crimes.
Alphonse Bertillon devised a system of classification, known as anthropometry or the Bertillon System, using measurements of parts of the body.
irst known use of fingerprints in the United States was when Gilbert Thompson used his own thumb print on a document to help prevent forgery.
In Mark Twain's book, "Life on the Mississippi", a murderer was identified by the use of fingerprint identification. In a later book, "Pudd'n Head Wilson", there was a dramatic court trial including fingerprint identification. A movie was made from this book in 1916 and a made-for-TV movie in 1984.
Sir Francis Galton began his observations of fingerprints as a means of identification in the 1880's.
began the first fingerprint files based on Galton pattern types. At first, Vucetich included the Bertillon System with the files.
Eduardo Alvarez made the first criminal fingerprint identification. He was able to identify Francisca Rojas, a woman who murdered her two sons and cut her own throat in an attempt to place blame on another. Her bloody print was left on a door post, proving her identity as the murderer. Alvarez was trained by Juan Vucetich. Sir Francis Galton published his book, "Finger Prints" in 1892, establishing the individuality and permanence of fingerprints. The book included the first published classification system for fingerprints. In 1893, Galton published the book "Decipherment of Blurred Finger Prints," and 1895 the book "Fingerprint Directories." Galton identified the characteristics by which fingerprints can be identified. A few of these same characteristics (minutia) are basically still in use today, and are sometimes referred to as Galton Details.
Haque and Bose are the two Indian fingerprint experts credited with primary development of the Henry System of fingerprint classification (named for their supervisor, Edward Richard Henry). The Henry classification system is still used in English-speaking countries (primarily as the manual filing system for accessing paper archive files that have not been scanned and computerized).
Edward Richard Henry appeared before the inquiry committee to explain the system published in his recent book "The Classification and Use of Fingerprints." The committee recommended adoption of fingerprinting as a replacement for the relatively inaccurate Bertillon system of anthropometric measurement, which only partially relied on fingerprints for identification.
The Fingerprint Branch at New Scotland Yard (Metropolitan Police) was created in July 1901 using the Henry System of Fingerprint Classification.
First systematic use of fingerprints in the U.S. by the New York Civil Service Commission for testing.
the New York City Civil Service Commission, the New York State Prison System and the Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas began using fingerprinting.
The use of fingerprints began at the St. Louis Police Department. Sometime after the St. Louis World's Fair, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) created America's first national fingerprint repository, called the National Bureau of Criminal Identification.
U.S. Army begins using fingerprints. During the next 25 years more and more law enforcement agencies join in the use of fingerprints as a means of personal identification. Many of these agencies began sending copies of their fingerprint cards to the National Bureau of Criminal Identification, which was established by the International Association of Police Chiefs.
U.S. Navy begins using fingerprints.
U.S. Marine Corps begins using fingerprints.
In 1910, Frederick Brayley published the first American textbook on fingerprints, "Arrangement of Finger Prints, Identification, and Their Uses."
In October 1915, a group of twenty-two identification personnel met and initiated the "International Association for Criminal Identification"
Edmond Locard wrote that if 12 points (Galton's Details) were the same between two fingerprints, it would suffice as a positive identification.
an act of congress established the Identification Division of the FBI. The IACP's National Bureau of Criminal Identification and the US Justice Department's Bureau of Criminal Identification consolidated to form the nucleus of the FBI fingerprint files. During the decades since, the FBI's fingerprint national fingerprint support has been indispensable in supporting American law enforcement.
most American fingerprints experts agreed there was no scientific basis for a minimum number of corresponding minutiae to determine an "identification" and the twelve point rule was dropped from the FBI publication, "The Science of Fingerprints."
the FBI had processed 100 million fingerprint cards in manually maintained files; and by 1971, 200 million cards. the files were later split into computerized criminal files and manually maintained civil files
The International Association for Identification Standardization Committee authored a resolution stating that each identification is unique and no valid basis exists to require a minimum number of matching points in two friction ridge impressions to establish a positive identification.
four employees of the Hertfordshire (United Kingdom) Fingerprint Bureau contacted fingerprint experts throughout the UK and began organization of that country's first professional fingerprint organization, the National Society of Fingerprint Officers. The initials F.F.S. behind a fingerprint expert's name indicates they are recognized as a Fellow of the Fingerprint Society. The Society hosts annual educational conferences with speakers and delegates attending from many countries.
At New Orleans, Louisiana on 1 August 1977, delegates to the 62nd Annual Conference of the International Association for Identification (IAI) voted to establish the world's first certification program for fingerprint experts. Since 1977, the IAI's Latent Print Certification Board has proficiency tested thousands of applicants, and periodically proficiency tests all IAI Certified Latent Print Examiners (CLPEs).
the Neurim Declaration states "No scientific basis exists for requiring that a pre-determined minimum number of friction ridge features must be resent in two impression in order to establish a positive identification."
INTERPOL's Automated Fingerprint Identification System repository exceeds 150,000 sets of fingerprints for important international criminal records from 190 member countries.
The Unique Identification Authority of India is the world's largest fingerprint (and largest multi-modal biometric) system using fingerprint, face and iris biometric records.
The largest AFIS repository in America is operated by the Department of Homeland Security's US Visit Program, containing over 120 million persons' fingerprints. The largest criminal fingerprint AFIS repository in America is the FBI's Next Generation Identification. NGI is the FBI's most valuable service to American law enforcement, providing accurate and rapid fingerprint identification services. Interpol, the European Union's Prüm Treaty, the FBI's Next Generation Identification and other initiatives seek to improve cross-jurisdiction sharing (probing and sharing/pushing) of important finger and palm print data to identify criminals.