Wha's like us

F — Forensics

Book pages showing 10 fingerprints

'Fingerprints from corpse no 125'. From a booklet in a small collection of correspondence and papers relating to Henry Faulds' work on fingerprinting and to the Ruxton murder case.


Collecting fingerprints as evidence to identify criminals is one of the key pillars of modern forensics.

Henry Faulds (1843-1930), a Scottish doctor and missionary working in Japan, came up with the notion that each person had a unique fingerprint while visiting an archaeological excavation.

The impressions left by craftsmen on ancient pieces of clay pots led him to collect further scientific evidence to prove his theory.

Despite Faulds' attempts to promote the idea of fingerprint identification and offering it to some major police forces around the world, including Scotland Yard, his work remained largely unacknowledged in his lifetime.

Nevertheless, he deserves credit for being the first person to demonstrate that fingerprints are a form of biometrics.


An ABC of Scotland

Forensics was just one of the 'F' topics in our alphabetical exhibition celebrating some of the outstanding achievements by Scotland and Scots.

'Wha's like us?' ran from 13 December 2013 to 18 May 2014.

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