Henry Faulds was a Scottish physician who laid the groundwork for the scientific study of fingerprints in criminology .
Faulds was born in Beith, Scotland. His parents were initially quite prosperous but lost most of their money in the famous City of Glasgow bank collapse in 1855. Henry was withdrawn from school, employed as a clerk, and in 1858 he became apprenticed to a shawl manufacturer where one of his duties was to classify varied Paisley shawl patterns.
At the age of 21, Henry became conscious of his deficient education and took classes at Glasgow University in mathematics, logic, and classics. Then, at age 25, he decided that his true vocation was medicine , so he enrolled at Anderson's College, Glasgow, and became a licentiate with commendation in 1871. By this time, Henry had developed a strong religious faith.
In September 1873 he married Isabella Wilson. Following hospital posts at St. Thomas London and Glasgow Royal Infirmary, he took up a post with the Church of Scotland as medical missionary at Darjeeling, India. He resigned a year later and then joined the United Presbyterian Church. In 1874, as their first medical missionary, Faulds went to Tokyo, Japan, where, in 1875, he established the Tsukiji hospital.
His reputation grew rapidly and he was offered a post as personal physician to the Imperial House. Faulds ran his hospital, lectured Japanese medical students, taught physiology , Darwinism, and Professor Joseph Lister's principles of antisepsis to Japanese surgeons, and trekked into the mountains to heal the bedridden. He became the first foreign doctor to be allowed to carry out post mortems, and was consulted by the authorities on the control of rabies, typhoid, and cholera epidemics. Provision for the blind was limited and Henry Faulds devised a bible for them to read using raised letters—a forerunner of Braille. By 1882 his hospital treated 15,000 patients annually.
While in Japan, Faulds and an American archeologist, Edward S. Morse, struck up a friendship. Morse's Japanese excavations were distinguished by cooking pots and other vessels made from clay. One day, Faulds noticed minute patterns of parallel lines impressed in the clay. Some months earlier, Faulds had lectured his medical students on touch and he had noticed the swirling ridges on his own fingertips. In a flash, he realized that the 2,000-year-old impressions he now examined in clay came from the ridges on the fingers of ancient potters.
Finding fingerprints on the ancient clay fragments of Japanese pottery led Faulds to study fingerprints with a scientific approach. Faulds and his medical students shaved off their finger ridges with razors until no pattern could be traced. They repeated the experiment, removing the ridges by any number of methods and each time the ridges grew back in exactly the same patterns.
Over a period of two years, he also examined the hands of large numbers of infants and children to see if growth affected their fingertip patterns. When an epidemic of scarlet fever swept through Japan, causing severe peeling of the skin, Faulds again studied the fingerprints and found no before-and-after change. He amassed a significant collection of prints and eventually found each person had a unique fingerprint . In an attempt to promote the idea of fingerprint identification , Faulds sought the help of the noted naturalist Charles Darwin in 1850. Darwin declined to work on the idea, but passed it on to his relative Francis Galton .
On October 28, 1880, while still in Japan, Faulds' first paper on the subject, entitled "On the Skin-Furrows of the Hand," was published in the scientific journal Nature. This included a remarkable forecast that fingerprints from mutilated or dismembered corpses might be of forensic importance in identification. Furthermore, Faulds anticipated the transmission of fingerprints by photo-telegraphy. He also suggested that criminal registers be kept of "the for-ever-unchangeable finger-furrows of important criminals."
Faulds' letter was the first in the scientific literature to suggest the basic concepts of the fingerprint system of identification as we know it today. Twenty years earlier, however, Sir William Herschel had begun collecting fingerprints, too. In the month following publication of Faulds' paper, Herschel published a letter, also in Nature, in which he explained that he had been using fingerprints as a means to identify criminals in jail since 1857. However, he had been using fingerprints merely as a means of signature and failed to mention the potential for forensic use. Later, Herschel published another letter in Nature, giving full credit to Faulds for his original discovery. This disclaimer was largely unnoticed and others had by this time usurped Faulds' place in history.
Due to his wife's illness, Faulds returned to Britain in 1885. He dispatched letters offering his fingerprinting system to the chiefs of the major police forces around the world, though he had little response. To make matters worse, a second system of scientific criminal identification, anthropometry , had been developed by the young Frenchman Alphonse Bertillon . In 1892 Francis Galton published a book on the use of fingerprints, with no mention made of Faulds' contribution. In 1901 Edward Henry, a former colleague of Galton and the Commissioner of Police at Scotland Yard, set up a fingerprint bureau.
It is to these three men—Galton, Herschel, and Henry—that credit is frequently given for the discovery of the use of fingerprints in criminology. Faulds became embittered and returned to the life of a police surgeon in the town of Fenton, Staffordshire. In 1922, he sold his practice and moved to Wolstanton where he died in obscurity in 1930.
see also Criminology; Fingerprint; Medicine; Physiology.
Henry, Edward Richard
Henry, Edward Richard
Over the course of his career, Sir Edward Richard Henry made significant advancements in the use of fingerprints as a tool to forensic science . He is responsible for developing the fingerprint identification system that is used throughout Europe and North America. In conjunction with his research, Henry published Classification and Uses of Finger Prints. As the head of Scotland Yard, he also led the transition from anthropometry to fingerprint identification.
Henry was born in London in 1850 and attended St. Edmund's College. He earned a degree from University College, London, in 1869, and a few years later began studying law at the Society of the Middle Temple. In 1873, Henry passed the examinations to join the civil service in India. It was in India where Henry first became involved in matters related to criminal identification and fingerprinting. He first worked in Allahabad, where he was an assistant magistrate collector, presiding over tax courts. Later, Henry was appointed as inspector general of the Bengal police.
While working as inspector general, Henry began to study how fingerprinting was and could be used as a way to identify criminals. He discussed the matter frequently with fellow English scientist Sir Francis Galton (1822–1911), and reviewed research conducted by William Herschel (1738–1822) and Henry Faulds (1843–1930). In 1896, Henry instituted the use of fingerprint impressions on criminal record forms in Bengal. Later that year, he developed a fingerprint classification system that allowed fingerprints to be filed, searched, and traced against thousands of others. Within a year, Henry's system was being used throughout British India. Within ten years, the system was being used by authorities throughout Europe and North America. Following the development of his system, Henry wrote and published a book detailing the subject, Classification and Uses of Finger Prints.
Henry returned to England in 1901, and became the assistant commissioner of Scotland Yard, overseeing the criminal investigation department. Later that year, under Henry's tutelage, Scotland Yard established its own fingerprint bureau. In 1903, Henry was appointed commissioner of Scotland Yard, a position he held for fifteen years. He was knighted in 1906.
see also Fingerprint analysis (famous cases); Ridge characteristics.