Toward the close of the 19th century, police agencies worldwide developed innovative scientific methods to help combat crime. Chief among these techniques were classification systems designed to measure and catalog physical, psychological, and social characteristics collected from criminal offenders. Of the many early forays into biometric data analysis, the Bertillon system is perhaps the best-known and most widespread.

The Bertillon system derives its name from its inventor, Alphonse Bertillon (April 24, 1853-February 13, 1914). While working for the police department in his native Paris, ...

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