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Ancient Crime Scene Analysis

 
 
Reply Fri 29 Oct, 2021 06:59 pm
I don't expect to get much from this post because if we have this expertise on the site, I haven't noticed it. Most of you have probably seen "CSI." They can learn a lot from a crime scene. Before and during most of the 1800s, crime scene analysis was pretty much just cleaning up the crime scene and bringing in the usual suspects. Police began taking fingerprints at the end of the 19th century. I'm interested in how mechanically they did that at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. I suppose they used something like charcoal to dust for prints. But, not having anything like tape, how did they transfer the fingerprints to a record, like a white card?

When I ask this question, people usually link in some "history of fingerprinting" page that actually never mentions fingerprint collection.
 
Mame
 
  3  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2021 12:45 am
@Brandon9000,
here you go:

https://www.imprintseals.org/A_History_of_Fingerprinting
izzythepush
 
  2  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2021 06:02 am
@Brandon9000,
A documentary about Jack the Ripper pointed out that instead of preserving the crime scene the first thing the police did was to clear away the graffiti left there.
0 Replies
 
Joeblow
 
  0  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2021 06:10 am
@Brandon9000,
Hey Brandon. No expertise, but you might want to start with iodine fuming. You're asking about lifting latent prints? I'm uncertain when the first lifting tape was developed, but looks like it started with the iodine crystals to view them, and went from there.
bobsal u1553115
 
  2  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2021 07:31 am
@Brandon9000,
Interesting approach to requesting information: "knock this ignorance off my shoulder, I dare you."

Howzit workin' fer ya?
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  2  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2021 07:44 am
Maybe it was powder plus photos?

Cops then also leaned very heavily on roughing up suspects during interrogation. I wouldn't put it past an enterprising cop to take fingerprints, claim that they found a match at the scene, and using the lie as leverage to force a confession.
Brandon9000
 
  -1  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2021 09:33 am
@Mame,
You just did exactly what I complained about - linked in a history of fingerprinting that doesn't even mention the topic of how prints were lifted.
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  0  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2021 09:34 am
@Joeblow,
Joeblow wrote:
Hey Brandon. No expertise, but you might want to start with iodine fuming. You're asking about lifting latent prints? I'm uncertain when the first lifting tape was developed, but looks like it started with the iodine crystals to view them, and went from there.

The problem is that they didn't have tape of any kind at the time. Plastic hadn't been invented yet.
Brandon9000
 
  2  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2021 09:36 am
@jespah,
jespah wrote:
Maybe it was powder plus photos?

Cops then also leaned very heavily on roughing up suspects during interrogation. I wouldn't put it past an enterprising cop to take fingerprints, claim that they found a match at the scene, and using the lie as leverage to force a confession.

Was photography good enough in the late 1800s to photograph a fingerprint? I just don't know.
jespah
 
  2  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2021 10:09 am
@Brandon9000,
Hmm. This page says, "Another type of photo was a cabinet card. They were larger in size, generally about 6 ½ by 4 ¼ inches."

Here's the image they show on that page:
https://www.familytree.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Photo-Cabinet.jpg
Seems to be a very good level of detail.

But even if there wasn't, if you've got a pair of cops with bully clubs leaning over a cuffed witness and claiming the prints match, I don't think a suspect in 1872 would demand a deeper forensic analysis.
Brandon9000
 
  2  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2021 10:15 am
@jespah,
So, perhaps it was possible. They could have dusted for prints and then photographed the print they found. Now I just have to find out if that was, in fact, what they did.
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  2  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2021 11:22 am
@jespah,
I see those in carboots all the time, they usually go for about a quid or so unless you have something different.

Uniforms are good, as are animals, anyone who is of non European heritage or dead children.

Dead children are very sought after. Often when a child died the parents would dress them up and have their photograph taken.

The quality of the photograph is better than usual because the children are perfectly still, no blurred lines.

They are normally sat down with a soft toy or cushion, something like that.
0 Replies
 
Joeblow
 
  2  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2021 12:47 pm
@Brandon9000,
Yeah. I think that the "lifting" of latent prints started in the 1930s.

Prior to that, you'd need the actual item that bore the print to compare to an exemplar.

Brandon9000
 
  0  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2021 02:29 pm
@Joeblow,
If true, that must have been terribly inconvenient, especially if it was a table or something big like that. Also, if they made a print visible by dusting, I'm not sure how long it would last. It doesn't exactly promote going through lists of prints to find a match.

I believe they had no technology that could produce adhesive tape. And, truthfully, they barely had a concept of a "crime scene." I've looked at a number of histories of fingerprinting and this subject is always omitted.
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  2  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2021 03:06 pm
Sez here they did have a form of tape.
Brandon9000
 
  0  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2021 03:10 pm
@jespah,
jespah wrote:
Sez here they did have a form of tape.
"The history of adhesive tape occurred during its first appearance in 1845. Dr. Horace Day, a surgeon used a rubber adhesive applied to strips of fabrics to make a new invention called Surgical Tape."

I need to look into that. Thanks.
0 Replies
 
Joeblow
 
  2  
Reply Sun 31 Oct, 2021 10:12 am
@jespah,
I looked at that very link too. Transparent cellophane tape was first marketed in 1930, thus my guess. I might have guessed they used silly putty, but that wasn't invented until the early 1940s Laughing

Brandon, if you ever do figure it out, I'd love to know!
jespah
 
  2  
Reply Sun 31 Oct, 2021 10:20 am
@Joeblow,
I'm curious about this now, too.
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  0  
Reply Sun 31 Oct, 2021 09:57 pm
I'm concluding that the police or whatever preceded them couldn't have taken fingerprints in a very useful way before the mid-1800s at the very earliest, even had they known how important it would be.
Joeblow
 
  3  
Reply Mon 1 Nov, 2021 07:28 am
@Brandon9000,
I read that the first conviction (using a patent fingerprint) happened in Argentina in 1892. When confronted with the evidence (a bloody fingerprint) the woman confessed. In the U.S., in 1910, they also used a patent print to secure a conviction. They photographed and cut off a piece of railing (I think it was) that had a patent print in fresh paint.

I think convictions with latent prints came a couple decades later though I haven't yet read about the first case.

Thanks for the rabbit hole Smile
0 Replies
 
 

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