The History of Fingerprints
Sir William Herschel and the English began using fingerprints in 1858, when he first used fingerprints on native contracts. On a whim, and with no thought toward personal identification, Herschel had a local businessman, impress his hand print on the back of a contract. Sir Herschel's believed that all fingerprints were unique to the individual, as well as permanent throughout that individual's life.
During the 1870's-1880's, Dr. Henry Faulds not only recognized the importance of fingerprints as a means of identification, but also devised a method of classification as well. He forwarded an explanation of his classification system and a sample of the forms he had designed for recording inked impressions, to Sir Charles Darwin. He discussed fingerprints as a means of personal identification, and the use of printers ink as a method for obtaining such fingerprints.
Sir Francis Galton, began his observations of fingerprints as a means of identification in the 1880's. In 1892, he published his book, "Fingerprints", establishing the individuality and permanence of fingerprints. The book included the first classification system for fingerprints. Galton identified the characteristics by which fingerprints can be identified. These same characteristics (minutia) are basically still in use today, and are often referred to as Galton's Details.
In 1891, Juan Vucetich began the first fingerprint files based on Galton pattern types. At first, Vucetich included the Bertillon System with the files. In 1892, Juan Vucetich made the first criminal fingerprint identification. He was able to identify a woman by the name of Rojas, who had murdered her two sons, and cut her own throat in an attempt to place blame on another. Her bloody print was left on a door post, proving her identity as the murderer.