1686 – Marcello Malpighi, an Italian physician and biologist, who is regarded as the father of microscopical anatomy and histology, noted the common characteristics of spirals, loops, and ridges in fingerprints by using a microscope. He was the first to document the different types of fingerprints.
1823 – Johannes Evengelista Purkinje, anatomist and professor at the University of Breslau, Prussia, wrote a thesis in which he described nine different types of fingerprint patterns.
1858 – Chief Magistrate of the Hooghly district in Jungipoor, India, Sir William Herschel, first used fingerprints to “sign” contracts with native Indians. He noted that no two prints were exactly alike and that fingerprints could be used for personal identification purposes. “Under Herschel, fingerprints were more effectively used as a means of intimidation than for any real scientific purposes.”
1880 –Dr. Henry Faulds, British surgeon and Superintendent of Tsukiji Hospital in Tokyo, published an article in Nature, a scientific journal, in which he discussed fingerprints as a means of personal identification as well as the use of printer’s ink as a method of obtaining fingerprints. “Faulds had begun his study of what he called ‘skin-furrows’ during the 1870s after looking at fingerprints on pieces of old clay pottery… Faulds began to recognize that the distinctive patterns on fingers held great promise as a means of individual identification and developed a classification system for recording these inked impressions.” Also in 1880, Faulds corresponded with Sir Charles Darwin, who declined to assist Dr. Faulds in the further study of fingerprints. However, he did refer Faulds to British scientist, Sir Francis Galton.
1882 – Gilbert Thompson, an employee of the U.S. Geological Survey in New Mexico, used his own fingerprints on a document to guard against forgery. This event was the first known use of fingerprints for identification in America.
1888 – Through careful study of the work of Henry Faulds, as well as his examination of fingerprints collected by Sir William Herschel, “Sir Francis Galton became the first to provide scientific evidence that no two fingerprints are exactly the same and that prints remain the same throughout a person’s lifetime.”
1892 – The book Fingerprints was published by Sir Francis Galton in which he described the different types of fingerprint patterns: whorls, loops and arches.
1896 –Sir Edward Richard Henry, chief of police in Bengal, India, developed a system, the Henry Classification System, that included 1,024 primary classifications. Within a year, the Governor General signed a resolution instituting fingerprinting as the official means of identifying criminals in British India. In 1901, Henry was transferred to England. The Henry Classification System is still in use in English-speaking countries around the world.
1901 – Scotland Yard established its first Fingerprint Bureau under the direction of Sir Edward Henry.
1902 – Harry Jackson was found guilty of burglary on evidence of fingerprints. It was the first time fingerprints were used to prove the guilt of a suspect in a British courtroom.
1902 – Alphonse Bertillon, French police officer and biometrics researcher, applied the anthropological technique of anthropometry to law enforcement, creating an identification system based on physical measurements. Anthropometry was the first scientific system used by police to identify criminals. He was also responsible for the first criminal identification of a fingerprint without a known suspect. A print, lifted from the scene of a homicide, was compared against criminal fingerprints already on file, and a match was made.
1903 – Fingerprinting technology came into widespread use in the United States when the New York Police Department, the New York State Prison system, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons began working with the new science. The next year, the St. Louis Police Department, assisted by a sergeant from Scotland Yard guarding the British display at the St. Louis Exposition, started to use fingerprints at Leavenworth State Penitentiary in Kansas.
1905 – The U.S. Army started to use fingerprints as personal identification and was soon joined by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
1905 – The Stratton Brothers were the first men to be convicted in Great Britain for murder based on fingerprint evidence in the bludgeoning deaths of shopkeepers, Thomas and Ann Farrow, in Deptford. It is widely regarded as the case that launched forensic science.
1911 – The Dominion Police Force of Canada established the first central storage for fingerprints in North America in Ottawa. Current number of fingerprints on file is over two million.
1924 – The Identification Division of the FBI, the National Bureau, and Leavenworth were consolidated. By 1946, the FBI had processed 100 million fingerprint cards.
1990 – The Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems (AFIS) began to analyze fingerprints using computers to cross reference fingerprints.
1999 – “The Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) is a national fingerprint and criminal history system that responds to requests 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help local, state, and federal partners—and our own investigators—solve and prevent crime and catch criminals and terrorists. IAFIS provides automated fingerprint search capabilities, latent search capability, electronic image storage, and electronic exchange of fingerprints and responses. IAFIS is the largest criminal fingerprint database in the world, housing the fingerprints and criminal histories for more than 70 million subjects in the criminal master file, along with more than 34 million civil prints. Included in our criminal database are fingerprints from 73,000 known and suspected terrorists processed by the U.S. or by international law enforcement agencies who work with us.”
2012 (May) – “Scotland Yard deploys mobile fingerprint devices” – “Scotland Yard says it is equipping its police officers with handheld fingerprint devices, something the force says will help identify suspects in a matter of seconds… [I]t has distributed 350 of the cell phone-sized devices to officers across various parts of London, part of a nationwide rollout championed by Britain’s National Policing Improvement Agency… [T]he devices capture fingerprints and remotely check them against the police database, flagging wanted criminals in 30 seconds.”
 Fingerprints, The Origins of Crime Detection and the Murder Case that Launched Forensic Science, Colin Beavan, Hyperion, New York, 2001.
 Fingerprint America: http://www.fingerprintamerica.com/fingerprinthistory.asp
 Yahoo News – “Scotland Yard deploys mobile fingerprint devices: http://news.yahoo.com/scotland-yard-deploys-mobile-fingerprint-devices-215615534–finance.html