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Download Fingerprints: The Origins of Crime Detection and the Murder Case that Launched Forensic Science epub

by Colin Beavan

Now available in paperback -- the history of fingerprinting, as "fascinating, informative and as gripping as a great crime novel" --Simon Singh, author of Fermat's Enigma and The Code Book.

It is almost impossible to imagine that prior to the 20th century, there was no reliable way to distinguish between the guilty and the innocent. All that changed in Britain in 1905, when the bloody bodies of an elderly couple were discovered in their shop -- and a solitary fingerprint became the only piece of evidence . . .

Download Fingerprints: The Origins of Crime Detection and the Murder Case that Launched Forensic Science epub
ISBN: 0786885289
ISBN13: 978-0786885282
Category: Law
Subcategory: Criminal Law
Author: Colin Beavan
Language: English
Publisher: Hyperion; Reprint edition (May 2002)
Pages: 256 pages
ePUB size: 1213 kb
FB2 size: 1313 kb
Rating: 4.5
Votes: 663
Other Formats: lrf mobi lrf lit

happy light
The controversy over who did what, who did it first, and the Scots vs. the English, people do not want to let lie. Conspiracy makes for good reading and brain teasing.

Since 1983 I have had a keen interest in Henry Faulds. I located where he is buried (England, not Scotland), along with his wife and their 2 daughters. I located living relatives of Dr. Faulds, which led others to parts of his missing fingerprint collection. At the time I was a Fellow of the Fingerprint Society. I could go on about my experience with Faulds, Hershell, and Galton, but this is about the book.

Dr. Faulds was not a scientist or scientific researcher. He was a medical doctor, and a very dedicated one. William Hershell was neither a scientist nor doctor. He was a public administrator for the English in India, overseeing payment of government funds.

Dr. Faulds was the first to submit the theory that fingerprints could be used to identify a person who had committed a crime. Hershell responded that he had been using fingerprints longer than Faulds to identify fraud. Dr. Faulds deserves credit for suggesting fingerprints from a crime scene could identify the suspect. Hershell deserves credit for realizing that using an inked impression of a finger could deter fraud.

Realizing that neither Faulds nor Hershell were scientists, English authorities requested Galton, recognized by his peers as an academic and scientific researcher, look into the claims of Faulds and Hershell. Edward Henry and his classification system came later.

Galton's findings resulted in further research by others, leading eventually to the introduction of the use of fingerprints as a means of identifying people, both from scenes of crimes and from inked impressions.

The personalities and politics of the people and time in history help make this book interesting reading. Faulds, for reasons we can only guess, did testify for the defense that a print from a crime scene was not that of the accused, in direct conflict with the prosecution and opinion of the fingerprint branch.

The print in question was obtained by the Fingerprint Society in the 1980's, and observed by many experts, and myself, to clearly match that of the accused. Faulds was wrong, and I think he knew it. Why he did what he did is known only to him. But it does not change the fact that he deserves credit for being the first to submit to a scientific journal that prints from a crime scene could be used to identify criminals. In this, Beavan is right on the mark. But Hershell and Galton are also due recognition for their different and separate contributions.

I recommend this book, it is one person's view of this part of history. It is accurate in many details, and the conclusions drawn are not new. Others felt the same before this author.

Faulds, Hershell, Galton and likely a number of people in India at the time, are all due credit for the birth and delivery of fingerprints as a means of identification.
Had to buy this book for required class reading. It is what it is. It's a fingerprint origin book. Nothing that knocked me off my feet with information.
Fantastic book!! I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the history of science. Things we take for granted today, i.e. the uniqueness of fingerprints, was not initially obvious and it is fascinating to see how this knowledge developed.
Colin Beavan has written a GREAT non fiction book on the history of fingerprinting. This author has it all! Suggested reading for any law enforcement employee, active or retired, and any history buff. GREAT easy reading!
Steel balls

Mark Twain’s 1894 book “The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson” noted that the lines on the insides of the hands and feet uniquely identified a human being. The use of physical evidence was pioneered by Vidocq in Napoleonic France in 1812. The reduction of hanging in Britain resulted in the need to identify prior offenders. Chapter 1 begins with a murder in 1902 Deptford. No eyewitnesses, no murder weapon; only a thumbprint on the cashbox. A milkman and his helper had seen two men leaving that shop, but could not pick them out from a line-up. One thumbprint linked one man to the crime. Physical evidence had been distrusted as being too vulnerable to manipulation (p.18). The Dark Ages of England saw “trial by ordeal” as the origin of modern criminal proceedings (p.22). This was an advance over blood feuds and clan war (p.23). Next investigating juries replaced trial by ordeal. Trial by combat was on the law book s until 1817. Defendants could not call their own witnesses, there was no use of physical evidence.

Vidocq pioneered modern police detection (p.30). The Sepoy Mutiny in India was put down with terror tactics that recalls the Nazi SS (p.41). Afterwards the Indians used passive resistance, like repudiating signed contracts. William Herschel used handprints for a signature that couldn’t be denied (p.42). Later he used fingerprints to verify contracts. The science of criminology began in the 19th century. A poor economy generated more crime (p.51). The Case of the Tichbourne Claimant showed the need for reliable identification (pp.58-59). Chapter 4 has the life of Henry Faulds, a medical missionary in Japan, who realized fingerprints could identify a individual (p.72). Faulds’ article in ‘Nature’ 10-28-1880 “was the first in the scientific literature to suggest the basic concepts of the fingerprint system of identification” (p.74).

Chapter 5 is about the life and career of Alphonse Bertillon who invented a system of identifying criminals. Analysis of French army recruits revealed a wide range of bodily dimensions. The solution was a rapid search of records by physical measurements (a decision table) This new system attracted others, like Francis Galton (p.93). Chapter 6 tells of this impressive but flawed figure (pp.98-99). [If Galton stole from Faulds it could be due to heredity (p.104)!] Galton’s 1992 book “Finger Prints” was very comprehensive and provided a systematic proof (p.110). Chapte r7 tells of the first use of fingerprints to identify a criminal in 1892 Argentina. Juan Vucetich’s system would be used in much of South America. Bertillon’s method was so successful that most French criminals stopped using false names (p.126). Fingerprints were taken directly and correctly (p.127). The British adopted Bertillon’s classification of measurement, and fingerprints, for identification. Faulds’ system was more sophisticated (p.131). Azizul Haque invented a classification system less prone to error and faster (p.141). This was adopted in 1897 British India.

Edward Henry’s paper on fingerprint classification gained him recognition (p.149). The arrest and conviction of Adolf Beck by mistaken identification advanced the method of fingerprinting. Fingerprints as a reliable method of identification was sanctioned at the trial of the Stratton brothers, convicted and executed on the basis of one thumbprint (Chapter 10). [The British substance ‘paraffin’ is called ‘kerosene’ in America (p.173).] The Illinois Supreme Court made a landmark ruling for fingerprint identification (p.193). France adopted fingerprinting after Bertillon died. [When there are no fingerprints the Bertillon practice of measuring bones is used for identification.] The ‘Epilogue’ notes the importance of fingerprints today, and explains why. After a century of use, no one has ever proved that a person’s fingerprints are unique. But it has never been disproved.