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Bertillon system

Bertillon system The Bertillon System, invented by French criminologist Alphonse Bertillon in 1879, was a technique for describing individuals on the basis of a catalogue of physical measurements, including standing height, sitting height (length of trunk and head), distance between fingertips with arms outstretched, and size of head, right ear, left foot, digits, and forearm. In addition, distinctive personal features, such as eye colour, scars, and deformities, were noted. The system was used to identify criminals in the later years of the nineteenth century, but was soon displaced by the more reliable and easily-recorded fingerprints.

Colin Blakemore

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Bertillon system

Bertillon system (bərtĬl´yən), first scientific method of criminal identification, developed by the French criminologist Alphonse Bertillon (1853–1914). The system, based on the classification of skeletal and other body measurements and characteristics, was officially adopted in France in 1888 and soon after in other countries. Fingerprinting, added later as a supplementary measure, has largely replaced the system (see fingerprint).

See biography of Alphonse Bertillon by H. Rhodes (1956, repr. 1969).

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