140 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
been scattered almost indiscriminately among the ten fingers ; yet Galton failed to solve any anthropological problem by the aid of finger-prints*.
In the matter of heredity he was more successful, he produced evidence adequate enough to demonstrate that finger-rints were hereditary, but neither he nor any one since has produced a' satisfactory account of the manner in which they are inherited.
In later years t Galton formed a considerable collection of family prints of the two forefingers only. These were tabled and reduced in 1920 by Miss Ethel M. Elderton, who demonstrated the general inheritance of the ridge patterns, but noted that two finger-prints were far from adequate to determine the intensity of heredity, as although a parental peculiarity of pattern might pass to the same finger in the child, or with less probability to the homologous finger, it might also pass to any one of the remaining eight fingers ; this, if it happens to any individual finger with still less probability, may occur with equal or even greater probability when we take into account the total eight of them. While the existence of ten fingers in man is a distinct advantage in the matter of personal identification-or if we like a distinct misfortune to the criminal-it is also something of a misfortune to the geneticist. At any rate Galton's work left much to be done in determining the organic correlations between prints of the different fingers in the same individual: and the bearing of these organic correlations on the problem of heredity in the ridges. Thus it came about that while Galton did much pioneer work in the collection and co-ordination of material his chief contribution to the subject was in the matter of identification. He was the first to publish matter, largely due to Sir William Herschel, fully establishing the persistence of finger-print patterns; he was the first to show the nature of their variety and to classify them, and lastly he was the first to prove that it was possible to index them and rapidly to find, from a given set of prints, whether their owner was already in the index. All these problems were fundamental and must be definitely solved, if finger-prints were to be used for police purposes. None of this spade work had been achieved or at any rate published before Galton took up the subject. Before his day we have mere suggestions of the possible usefulness of these prints. Within ten years from his first study of the subject by the aid of his papers dealing with the prints from a scientific standpoint, by repeated letters to the press, by action through the British Association and by definite demonstrations in his Laboratory to the Commission appointed by Mr Asquith to consider the question of criminal identification in England, Galton had got not only bertillonage accepted in
* More recent researches, for example, those of Kubo (1918) and Collins (1915), seem to indicate that the Oriental races have a larger percentage of whorls and fewer lunar oops than the European races. But the results are doubtful because there is a large personal equation in the matter of classification. I think we must conclude with Stockis (Revue Anthropologique, Annee 1922, p. 92) that the results reached (thirty years after Galton) are still not adequate to admit of our asserting the existence of well-defined ethnic differences in finger-prints.
t See Biometrika, Vol. ii, p. 365, 1903. Collection made in the years 1903 to 1905.
+ A beginning was made in the study of the organic correlation of finger-prints by Dr H. Waite, Biometrika, Vol. x, p. 421 et seq.