History of Fingerprinting
Fingerprint Identification is the method of identification using the impressions made by the minute ridge formations or patterns found on the fingertips. No two persons have exactly the same arrangement of ridge patterns, and the patterns of any one individual remain unchanged throughout life. Fingerprints offer an infallible means of personal identification. Other personal characteristics may change, but fingerprints do not. Fingerprints can be recorded on a standard fingerprint card or can be recorded digitally and transmitted electronically to the FBI for comparison. By comparing fingerprints at the scene of a crime with thefingerprint record of suspected persons, officials can establish absolute proof of the presence or identity of a person.
The first year for the first known systematic use of fingerprint identification began in the United States is 1902. The New York Civil Service Commission established the practice of fingerprinting applicants to prevent them from having better qualified persons take their tests for them. The New York state prison systembegan to use fingerprints for the identification of criminals in 1903. In 1904 the fingerprint system accelerated when the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, and the St. Louis, Missouri, Police Department both established fingerprint bureaus. During the first quarter of the 20th century, more and more local police identification bureaus established fingerprint systems. The growing need and demand by police officials for a national repository and clearinghouse for fingerprint records led to an Act of Congress on July 1, 1921, establishing the Identification Division of the FBI.