Historical Mugshots: Does the Year 1880 Make Me Look Fat?

So first, let me start out this blog post with a nod to one of my favorite podcasts, Stuff I Missed In History Class. From the same folks who bring you How Stuff Works, SYMIHC brings you 20-30 minute podcasts on neat historical people and events. Recently they did a podcast about the history of the Mug Shot that was really interesting. Before mug shots were commonly used to identify criminals exact measurements of various parts of the body were used to try and identify criminals. From the FlavorWire Article:

“The mug shot has, by now, become so universal that it’s hard to imagine a criminal justice system without it. But in the mid-19th century, when photography was still a new medium, there was no standardized record-keeping system in place to help police departments identify repeat criminals. Random daguerreotypes and loose photographs laying around unfiled weren’t cutting it — which is why in the early 1880s, French criminologist Alphonse Bertillon introduced the Paris police force to a standardized method that documented mug shots, body measurements, and in some cases, early finger prints.

That anthropometric Bertillon System, which was a recent subject of the podcast “Stuff You Missed in History Class,” would eventually be replaced with finger printing in the 1910s. But until then, its strange measurements — the width of the head, length of right ear, length of the cubit, etc. — represented huge advances in forensic science and criminal identification in both Europe and the States. “

And check out some of these awesome historical mug shots!! You can see more historical mug shots at Flavorwire.















~ by N/A on December 12, 2011.

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