Fingerprint Analysis

History of Fingerprint Analysis


Marcello Malpighi

Malpighi, a professor of anatomy at the University of Bologna, noted in his treatise the ridges, spirals, and loops in fingerprints.  The Malpighi layer of skin is named after him.


John Purkinje

Purkinje, a professor or anatomy at the University of Breslau, published his thesis discussing nine fingerprint patterns.


Sir William James Herschel

The English government began using fingerprints when Sir William James Herschel, Chief Magistrate of the Hooghly district in Jungipoor, India, first used fingerprints on native contracts.

The original intent was not towards personal identification, but towards scaring the natives.  Herschel has Rajyadhar Konai, a local businessman, press his hand print on a contract in order to frighten him out repudiating his signature.  Personal contact with the document appeared to make the contract more binding than if they only signed the document.  Later, Herschel simply required the right index and middle fingers of contract holders.

As fingerprinting increased, Herschel began to note that there was a uniqueness to each individual and that the fingerprints could be used to prove or disprove identity.


Paul-Jean Coulier

Professor Paul-Jean Coulier, of Val-de-Grace in Paris, published his observations that latent fingerprints could be developed on paper by iodine fuming, and he explained how to preserve the developed impressions.  Coulier mentioned the potential for identifying suspects’ fingerprints by using a magnifying glass.


Dr. Henry Faulds

During the 1870’s, Dr. Henry Faulds, the British Surgeon-General-Superintendent of Tsukiji Hospital in Tokyo, Japan, began research on the skin-furrows of latent fingerprints on prehistoric pottery.

In 1880, Faulds created a classification system for fingerprints which he forwarded to Sir Charles Darwin who in turn forwarded it to Francis Galton.

In Faulds’ journal article, he discussed fingerprints as a means of personal identification and how one could use printers ink as a method of obtaining the prints.

Faulds is also credited with the first fingerprint identification of a greasy fingerprint left on a bottle of alcohol.


Gilbert Thompson

The first known use of fingerprints in the United States occurred in 1882 by Gilbert Thompson who used his own thumbprint on a document to prevent forgery.


Sir Francis Galton

Galton studied fingerprints as a means of identification throughout the 1880’s.  As a result, he created a system of patterns.  His primary interest in fingerprints was as an aid in determining heredity and racial background, although he later determined that not to be connected.

In 1891, Juan Vucetich, an Argentine Police Official, began creating the first fingerprint files based on Galton’s pattern types.


Vucetich and Galton

The first criminal fingerprint identification occurred in 1892.  The criminal was Francis Rojas, a woman who murdered her two sons and cut her own throat in an attempt to blame another person.  Her bloody print was left on a door post which proved her identity as the murderer.

Galton published his book “Fingerprints” which established the individuality and permanence of fingerprints.  According to his calculations, the odds of two individuals sharing the same fingerprint is 1 in 64 billion.  The book also included the first classification system for fingerprints.


Haque and Bose

On June 12, 1897, the Council of the Governor General of India approved the committee report that fingerprints should be used for classification of criminal records.

Later that year, the Calcutta (now Kolkata) Anthropometric Bureau became the world’s first Fingerprint Bureau.  Azizul Haque and Hem Chandra Bose, who worked at the Bureau, are the two fingerprint experts credited with primary development of the Henry System of fingerprint classification.  The system was named after 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.


Fingerprint Branch

The Fingerprint Branch at New Scotland Yard (London Metropolitan Police) was created in July of 1901 using the Henry System of Fingerprint Classification.


United States

The first systematic use of fingerprints in the United States was by the New York Civil Service Commission for testing. Dr. Henry P. DeForrest pioneers U.S. fingerprinting.

In 1903, the New York State Prison system began the first systematic use of fingerprints in the U.S. for criminals.



The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) created America’s first national fingerprint repository, called the National Bureau of Criminal Identification.



The U.S. Army begins using fingerprints.

The U.S. Department of Justice forms the Bureau of Criminal Identification in Washington, DC to provide a centralized reference collection of fingerprint cards.

Two years later, the U.S. Navy started using fingerprints, and the Marine Corp joined the following year.



Inspector Harry H. Caldwell of the Oakland California Police Department’s Bureau of Identification began the International Association for Criminal Identification.  In 1918, the organization was renamed to the International Association for Identification (IAI) due to the volume of non-criminal identification the group performed.

The logo for IAI contains the right index fingerprint of Sir Francis Galton.



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 basis of the FBI fingerprint files.



By 1946, the FBI had processed 100 million fingerprint cards in manually maintained files, and by 1971, 200 million cards.

With the introduction of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) technology, the files were split into computerized criminal files and manually maintained civil files.



Four employees of the Hertfordshire Fingerprint Bureau began the UK’s first professional fingerprint organization, the National Society of Fingerprint Officers.  The organization then expanded internationally and was renamed The Fingerprint Society in 1977.  The initials F.F.S. behind a fingerprint expert’s name indicates that they are a Fellow of the Fingerprint Society.  The Society hosts annual educational conferences.


Latent Print Certification Board

At 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 tests all IAI Certified Latent Print Examiners (CLPE).

During the past three decades, Certified Latent Print Examiner status has become a prerequisite for journeyman fingerprint expert positions in many US state and federal government forensic laboratories.  IAI CLPE status is considered by many identification professionals to be a measurement of excellence.



As of 2005, Interpol’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System repository exceeded 50,000 sets of fingerprints for important international criminal records from 184 member countries.  Over 170 countries have 24×7 interface ability with Interpol expert fingerprint services.


U.S. Department of Homeland Security

The largest AFIS repository in America is operated by the Department of Homeland Security’s US Visit Program.  It contains over 100 million persons’ fingerprints, many in the form of two-finger records.  The two-finger records are non-compliant with FBI and Interpol standards, but sufficient for positive identification and valuable for forensics because index fingers and thumbs are the most commonly identified crime scene fingerprints. The US Visit Program has been migrating from two flat (not rolled) fingerprints to ten flat fingerprints since 2007.  “Fast capture” research funded by the US government will enable implementation of ten “rolled print equivalent” fingerprint recording (within 15 seconds per person fingerprinted) in future years.

The largest tenprint AFIS repository in America is the FBI’s Integrated AFIS (IAFIS) in Clarksburg, WV.  IAFIS has more than 60 million individual computerized fingerprint records (both criminal and civil applicant records).  Old paper fingerprint cards for the civil files are still manually maintained in a warehouse facility (rented shopping center space) in Fairmont, WV, though most enlisted military service member fingerprint cards received after 1990, and all military-related fingerprint cards received after 19 May 2000, have now been computerized and can be searched internally by the FBI.  In “Next Generation Identification,” the FBI may make civil file AFIS searches available to US law enforcement agencies through remote interface.  The FBI is also planning to eventually expand their automated identification activities to include other biometrics such as palm, iris and face.

All US states and many large cities have their own AFIS databases, each with a subset of fingerprint records that is not stored in any other database.  Many also store and search palmprints.  Law enforcement fingerprint interface standards are important to enable sharing records and reciprocal searches to identify criminals.


Borowsky, R. (1994). DNA fingerprinting: An overview. Bioscience, 44(10), 709. Retrieved from

Cole, S. A. (2005). More than zero: Accounting for error in latent fingerprint identification. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 95(3), 985-1078.  Retrieved from

Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2010). Integrated automated fingerprint identification system. Retrieved from

Joseph, L. C. & Resch, L. D. (2005).  Fingerprinting. Retrieved from

Hawthorne, M. R. (2008). Fingerprints: Analysis and understanding. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Mairs, G. T. (1936). Fingerprint signatures: A word of caution concerning their use. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 27(3), 409-411. Retrieved from

Osterburg, J. W. et al. (1977). Development of a mathematical formula for the calculation of fingerprint probabilities based on individual characteristics. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 72(360), 772-778. Retrieved from

Presented by: Ashley DuVal

4 Responses to “Fingerprint Analysis”

  1. Venkateswara Rao Madduru says:

    yes and thanks for publication and inform me the details of publication

    further i will show another invention.

    venkateswar rao Madduru

  2. Venkateswara Rao Madduru says:

    King County Sheriff
    The Official
    Finger Print Bureau.
    Sub: Permission for allowing finger print technique which decides the physical condition of the
    body-through finger impressions- reg.


    I am an expert in the arena of dermatoglyphics i.e study of finger prints. On this discipline, I have an experience of 28 years. Consequently I have done some research work in the formation of Patterns on the first phalange of all the fingers and also on the skin of palms. By authenticating the finger impressions and its nature of forming ridges as well as its patterns, I have understood that each finger impression is working as an index of an organ which leads to the analysis of organ development and its condition. For declaring this statement, I have verified thousands of finger impressions formed at first phalange of all the fingers.
    Latest developments in the field of science have stated that each finger is associated with various human organs. At the time of birth we can be aware of the human organ development and its issues by means of finger impressions formed in the first phalange of fingers. Through this linking, I have accomplished a number of tasks in our place and given some suggestions for maintaining the organs properly. There are seven groups of people in the world which are mentioned below:
    Group -1:15 to 20 Percent of People have no resistance against viruses.
    (having the patterns of Arches)
    Group-2:65 to 70 Percent of People have some resistance against viruses.
    (having the patterns of Loops)
    Group-3:15 to 20 Percent of People have resistance against viruses.
    (having the patterns of Whorls)
    Group-4:between Group – 1 and Group-2
    (having the patterns of combined Arches and Loops)
    Group-5:between Group-2 and Group-3
    (having the patterns of combined Loops and Whorls)
    Group-6:People with under developed organs (Body Organs Construction)
    (having the patterns of Arches formed only straight flattered Lines)
    Group-7:People with incorrect organ development (Reverse Organ Construction)
    (having the patterns of any pattern with converging ridges)

    Now a day’s people are not maintaining their organs properly. Therefore, it will be extremely useful to the Public. If a person knows which group he belongs to, then he/she will take care of their health. This is achievable by verifying finger impressions. My request is to permit me to introduce the same technique in your Bureau which leads to societal assistance. If permitted I will be present at your place to demonstrate my technique with some of our staff finger impressions.

    Thanking You Sir
    M Venkateswara Rao, (9440700897), Finger Print Expert,Inspector of Police,FPB.CID,
    District Police Office, Kurnool.Andhra Pradesh,India.

  3. Kirsten Clark says:

    May I have permission to use the photograph of Rajyadhar Konai’s contract and palm print for a University Assignment? It will not be used in any way other than in this assignment. Thank you very much for your consideration.

  4. Kris Chiasson says:

    Would I be able to use your photograph of the India contract for a digital publication? Tahnk you for your time and consideration.