Human Fingerprints
Fingerprints have been used as a means of identification dating back well over two thousand years. Over the past century, the fingerprinting process has become more sophisticated, and it has been put to many more uses. Read more in the Fingerprint Identification article.

The first documented fingerprints were taken in India in 1858 by Sir William J. Hershel. Soon thereafter advances were made on several fronts, and Sir Edward Henry devised a classification system around the turn of the 20th century that is still in practice today. Learn about the History of Fingerprinting.

The three distinct Types of Fingerprints that can be recovered from a crime scene are patent, plastic, and latent prints. The knowledge of the types of fingerprints hastens the investigator's quest to identify the source of the fingerprints. Fingerprint Classification was developed by Sir Francis Galton in 1888 so that fingerprints could be retrieved in a reasonable amount of time. Sir Edward Henry expanded on Galton's system, and his manual filing system paved the way for the computerized classification systems that exist today.

The patterns of the ridges of our fingers are distinct in every individual. The four basic pattern classifications established by Sir Edward Richard Henry in 1896 are the arch, the loop, the whorls, and the composites. Even to this day, Sir Henry's work on Fingerprint Patterns has held up under critical review.

Fingerprinting has withstood the test of time as the accepted method for identifying and tracking criminals. The science of fingerprinting has made major contributions to society over the past 125 years. The human element, however, on extremely rare occasions, can affect the outcome of a fingerprint procedure. Read arguments for and against the use of fingerprinting as an identification method in Fingerprinting Criticism.