Fingerprint Classification and Latents
May 11, 2013
Fingerprints have been used as a means of identification for over a hundred years. The earliest recorded use of fingerprints was 650AD when a merchant in China used a customer's print of currency to prove the man owed him money. Fingerprints are the oldest most established forensic science used today.
There are many founding fathers, whose research contributes to today's use of fingerprinting in forensics. Sir William Herschel, Sir Francis Galton, Juan Vucetich, Sir Edward Henry and Dr. Henry Faulds all contributed to what is now known as criminalistics use of fingerprints. Sir Edward Henry established a system and classification for prints in English speaking countries and Juan Vucetich in Spanish speaking countries (Leo, 2004).
The English first began using fingerprints in July of 1858, when Sir William James Herschel, Chief Magistrate of the Hooghly district in Jungipoor, India, first used fingerprints on native contracts (Unkown, 2013). This was thought of in spur of the moment without any thought as to means of personal identification. As Herschel's collection of prints grew he began to realize that they could indeed be used to identify and individual and it was his belief that the prints were unique to each individual and unchanging over the course of their lifetime. Herschel conducted the longest study of uniqueness and permanence in reference to fingerprints. These findings inspired him to expand the use of fingerprints.