Author(s): Caplan RM, Caplan RM
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Abstract The use of fingerprints for personal identification became widespread early in this century. How the fingerprints slowly became standardized involves many persons, including Nathaniel Grew, Johannes Purkinje, William Herschel, Henry Faulds, Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, Mark Twain, Juan Vucetich, Edward Henry, and J. Edgar Hoover. Although fingerprints have been noted and used since antiquity, a 25-year burst of activity that secured adoption of their use for identification began in about 1880. New modifications and applications have continued to the present. The history of fingerprints offers an excellent example of how society adopts innovations. This story also includes a bitter struggle for appropriate credit for various crucial steps in developing and adopting this important tool. More recent technical advances, including computers and molecular biology, now supplement the ease and usefulness of fingerprints, although the word fingerprinting continues in use by metaphoric extension.
This article was published in J Am Acad Dermatol
and referenced in Journal of Forensic Research