Personal Identification and Description 153
modification of Galton's method of indexing was introduced by Sir Edward Henry*. In 1895 Galton had published his Finger Print Directories, which contained a great improvement on his previous method of classification; this later method was in most essential points identical with that in use in 1909 at Scotland Yard. The article in the Times called Sir George Darwin into the field ; he concluded a letter which puts forward the simple facts of the matter with the words
"Sir Edward Henry undoubtedly deserves great credit in recognising the merits of the system and in organising its use in a practical manner in India, the Cape and England, but it would seem that the yet greater credit is due to Mr Francis Galton."
One has to remember that identification by finger-prints was in use at Scotland Yard long before Sir Edward Henry came on the scene t, but the indexing was by bertillonage. Dr Garson, the former director, was too much of an anthropologist and had a mind of too little inventive power to give up the anthropometric index. A dozen different ways of breaking up the large loop categories would occur to an inventive mind, and as soon as one of these had been tried and found successful bertillonage was bound to disappear. The fact remains that nothing was done and no progress made in abolishing bertillonage, until Sir Edward Henry succeeded Dr Garson. This absence of progress was not Galton's fault, but lay with the Government, which selected for the post of director an old-school medical anthropologist rather than a finger-print expert.
While it is absolutely impossible for one who has really studied fingerprints to confuse A's prints with those of B, it is always possible for a clerk to make an error in extracting the dossier, which corresponds to the identified finger-prints. Such a clerical lapse occurred in a case tried at the Guildhall in 1902, and the occasion was seized upon to attack the finger-print method by certain newspapers. Galton wrote a letter on the matter to Truth (October 2, 1902, Vol. LII, p. 786). He pointed out that there was no doubt about the identification, but when it came to turning up the record attached to the
* In March 1897 Major-General Strahan and Sir Alexander Pedler reported on the system of identification by Finger-Prints as adopted in India. It was really a report on Henry's work and methods. In the course of the Report the three conditions laid down by Mr Asquith's Committee (see our p. 150) are cited and the following words occur
"In the same report it is acknowledged that Mr Galton's finger-print method completely met the first and third conditions, but they disapproved of his method of classification."
This is a complete mis-statement of what the Committee did. Galton was not prepared at that date to provide a comprehensive method of indexing, accordingly it was impossible for the Committee to disapprove of his method of indexing. It was Galton himself who suggested indexing by bertillonage and this the Committee accepted, although both they and he looked upon it as a temporary stage. Galton's Secondary Classification was complete and published in 1895 (see our pp. 199 et seq.), and in the present writer's opinion there is little in Henry's book of 1901, which cannot be found, often better expressed, in Galton's of 1895 or in his earlier writings. The numerical notation is the chief novelty. We do not think the statement we have quoted above should have. been allowed to appear without a qualifying note in Henry's Classification and Uses of Finger Prints (p. 112).
j- I myself witnessed the rapid identification of criminals by their finger-prints in 1900.
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