History of Fingerprinting Timeline
Timeline Description: Fingerprints today are used widely by employers as well as police stations across the world. Because no two fingerprints are the same, they quickly became an accurate tool in helping identify people.

Date Event
1000 BC Fingerprints are used

All throughout history, fingerprints were used on official documents. They were used like a signature in places like ancient Babylon, China, Nova Scotia, and Persia.
1686 Fingerprint patterns are noticed

A professor at the University of Bologna, in Italy, named Macello Malpighi noticed that fingerprints had common patters. Loops, whorls, arches, and ridges seemed to make up most fingerprints.
1823 Nine patterns documented

A different professor named Johannes Evengelista Purkinje documented nine specific patterns to help identify types of fingerprints. Even with his discovery, the use of fingerprints did not catch on quite yet.
1858 No two are the same

A magistrate in India named William Herschel began using fingerprinting as a way to make natives "sign" a contract. After several contracts, he began noticing that no two fingerprints were the same; and fingerprints could be used for identification purposes.
1880 Fingerprints are used to identify someone

A doctor in Tokyo became very interested in fingerprinting. Dr. Henry Faulds used fingerprints to identify who had left a stray bottle lying around—he matched fingerprints left on the bottle with a laboratory worker.
1892 Fingerprints used to solve a crime

Using a bloody fingerprint left on a doorframe, police in Argentina were able to identify a murderer. During the same year, certain police groups started keeping fingerprint files.
1896 Fingerprints around the world

The use of fingerprints was slow to catch on from country to country. After Argentina, British India took up the practice.
1901 England jumps on board

After the success in Argentina and India, Scotland Yard began questioning whether it would be a useful system for England. The Scotland Yard Fingerprint Bureau was founded.
1902 Success in Paris

Paris police began keeping fingerprints of criminals on file. After a murder was committed, police found a fingerprint at the scene and compared it against their files; they were able to identify the killer.
1903 America begins using fingerprints

The New York Police Department, and others across the state, began using fingerprints as a way to identify people. Over the next few years, the practice slowly spread westward.
1905 American military branches

Over time, the Army, Navy, and Marines began using fingerprinting. The National Bureau of Criminal Investigation also began keeping track of the fingerprints on file.
1924 Fingerprints move to FBI territory

The Federal Bureau of Investigation took over the cataloguing of fingerprints in America. By 1971 they had over 200 million fingerprints on file.
1990 Computerized fingerprinting

With the advancement in technology, programs began using Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems. The AFIS's scanned and stored fingerprints electronically.
1996 Fingerprinting children

Law enforcement groups saw the need to fingerprint children as a means of identifying kids who became lost, or went missing. Christ Migliaro founded Fingerprint America for this purpose.
1999 FBI moves to electronic fingerprinting

Through a long process, the FBI began transferring their fingerprint file to an electronic system. Millions of criminal fingerprints are now stored across the globe.