Recognized HTML document
Previous Index Next



"It became gradually clear that three facts had to be established before it would be possible to advocate the use of finger-prints for criminal or other investigations. First it must be proved, not assumed, that the pattern of a finger-print is constant throughout life. Secondly that the variety of patterns is really very great. Thirdly that they admit of being so classified, or 'lexiconised,' that when a set of them is submitted to an expert, it would be possible for him to tell, by reference to a suitable dictionary, or its equivalent, whether a similar set had been already registered. These things I did, but they required much labour." Galton : Memories of my Life, p. 254.








History and Controversy.

The writer must confess to having felt not a little puzzled when he had to determine in what order to present Galton's work on Personal Identification. It is not only that his work was scattered over very numerous publications, but that in order to make it effective Galton had to step into the public arena; and this had its usual consequences, namely controversy and misrepresentation, factors which had hitherto played but a small part in Galton's career. On the whole it is strange how little controversy intruded on Galton's long and quiet years of study; this was in part due to the peace-loving mind of the man, but there were also other causes at work. In the first place he was labouring most of his life in an entirely untilled field, and there could be no friction therefore with other pioneers. In the next place his fellow scientists were slow to realise that the new logical tools he was

Previous Index Next