Alphonse Bertilon

Topics: Fingerprint, Anthropometry, Francis Galton Pages: 3 (793 words) Published: December 8, 2008
Alphonse Bertillon
Alphonse Bertillon was the first to truly create the scientific method of criminal identification. Born in 1853, Bertillon was from Paris France and came from a family of scientific background. His father, Dr. Louis Adolphe Bertillon, was a distinguished physician, statistician, and the vice president of the Anthropological society of Paris. Bertillon’s grandfather was also a well known naturalist and mathematician. (Ashbaugh, 1999).

Bertillon was a poor student and lacked the talent of his father and grandfather to be successful in the science field. As a boy, Bertillon had heard his father and grandfather and other scientists discuss statistics and the hypothesis that no two people have identical physical measurements. Growing up his father had good connections. With his father’s connections, Bertillon was appointed to a clerk position in the Prefecture of Police. His job was filling out and filing criminal information cards. Bertillon, often known as being a sarcastic and bad-tempered, was avoided by most of his colleagues and individuals. This gave him a great deal of time to himself (Ashbaugh, 1999).

While working as a clerk Bertillon noticed that the current method of establishing the identity of criminals was a waste of money and energy due to the fact that most criminals escaped detection by simply changing their names. From Bertillon’s grandfather and father he conceived the idea of using anatomical measurement to distinguish one criminal from another. Bertillon made a system that would be capable of indentify individuals. The system used various body measurements, he used head length, head breadth, length of the left middle finger, length left forearm, length of left foot, and body height. He also used scars and hair and eye color to distinguish criminals. Bertillon had to ask for permission to use his system on the criminals brought in for him to register. His superiors and fellow clerks doubted his idea of using this...

Bibliography: Anil, J. (2008, December). Fingerprint Identification. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from
Ashbaugh, David (1999). Quantitative- Qualitative friction Ridge Analysis. Boca Raton, Florida: crcpress.
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