Personal Identification and Description 151
The result of the Committee's deliberations was the recommendation that identification should be made by finger-prints, but that the indexing of the finger-prints should be by bertillonage. After r6commending the appointment of a scientific adviser to the Convict Office, the Committee remark
"Moreover, when practical experience had been obtained of the use of finger-prints, he would be able to revise the suggestions which we have made as to the respective place of the Bertillon and the Galton methods in the system, and might possibly find it advantageous to extend the Galton method of classification further than, with the limited experience we possess of its practical application, we have ventured to propose." (p. 35.)
It appears to me that the Committee went just as far towards replacing a tried system, bertillonage, by a new system, galtonage, as it was safe at that time to do. They even foresaw that with a really scientific adviser the latter system would entirely replace the former. In 1895 Dr Garson was appointed as scientific adviser to the Convict Office, and Inspector Collins* was sent to Galton's Laboratory to be instructed in finger-printing, and he ultimately took charge of the Finger-Print Department. Unfortunately Dr Garson, "being a skilled craniologist and writer on human measurement, was perhaps somewhat biased towards bertillonage t," and little was done towards following out the Departmental Committee's suggestion of indexing by the finger-prints themselves as experience in their use increased.
Sir E. Henry, who had adopted finger-print identification in India, with as far as I can judge only small modifications of Galton's old method t, became Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in 1903. Of him Galton writes
"When Sir E. Henry became Chief Commissioner six years ago, full of zeal for finger-prints, well experienced in their use and master of the situation, I felt satisfied that their utilisation had become firmly established, and I ceased to do more than observe its developments from
* Probably the official who has risen to fame recently in less scientific activities. His
teaching of the local prison warders in finger-printing certainly produced excellent results.
t "Identification by Finger-Prints," a letter of Galton's to the Times, Jan. 13, 1909.
+ I judge this chiefly from his letters filed in the Galtoniana, and notes of Francis Galton
Thurs. Oct. 10/94
"Mr Henry came today 101 to 121 to my laboratory by appointment.- I showed him much about fingerprints. He had spent hours at the lab. inmy absence. Agreed that my part now is to write an illustrated paper on classification. He undertakes to get me as many specimens as I want from India. I am to write to him there (he returns next week). In meantime I am to make some trials from my collection and I will talk to
Macmillan." [This has reference to the proposed book, i.e. Finger Print Directories.]
The correspondence with regard to finger-prints continued after Mr Henry's return to India, being dated from the office of Inspector-General of Police, Calcutta. In the following year Mr Henry submitted a "Note on Finger Impressions" for the guidance of the Lieutenant-Governor. From this it appears that identification was to be by the prints and indexing by bertillonage, i.e. the system of the Report of 1893. Numerous letters, thanking Galton for communications, asking him for further information, and stating how the matter progressed in India followed in 1895, 1896 (with a further Report to the Chief Secretary in Bengal, still emphasising the doubt as to how to index the finger-prints of 20,000 persons ; the letters urge the need for this indexing to replace the difficulty of exact anthropometric measurements under Indian conditions), 1899 (Henry describes his own new method of indexing) and 1900 (announcing that from April 1st the Indian Government had finally discarded anthropometry for direct finger-print indexing on Henry's system)