When people think of famous criminals, there’s one thing that comes to mind immediately, no matter who they were or what they did. If a criminal was caught and tried for a crime sometime after the mid-1800s, their face was preserved in what we know as a “mug shot.”
The seemingly simple forward and profile appearances came about shortly after the standardized implementation of the photograph itself, making them one of the world’s first widespread professional photographing careers.
And they were invented as an add-on for the Bertillon System.
Alphonse Bertillon was the forefather of anthropometry in law enforcement and helped forward the methodology of cataloging and identifying criminals using a variety of specific techniques which went beyond the standards of simple description and reception.
He innovated for the sake of protecting and serving for the peace and safety of others to make sure no criminal could escape justice so long as they had their face.
His method was so effective that the only thing that ever managed to replace it was fingerprinting, which he also helped to standardize.
10 /10 Inauspicious Start
Alphonse was born in Paris, France, in 1853. His father was a medical researcher and statistician.
Alphonse was the slower to develop of his family. He was expelled from the Lycee of Versailles and was aimless for much of his youth.
Even conscription into the French army ended early when he was discharged and sent out with no higher education to speak of. His father got him a clerical job at a Paris police office. He worked as a copyist during that time.
9 /10 Defining Standards
Alphonse was a very orderly man who sought strictness and clarity in his work, and in the 1880s, he wasn’t getting it.
He noted the very crude organization of the police department’s record-keeping when identifying recidivist – or repeat – criminals.
So, he decided to take matters into his own hands and proposed a series of identifying traits and characteristics which could be measured, logged, and re-used to appropriately re-identify criminals who were caught a second time.