Lab: Bertillon Measurement. Click link to view the file. ← Case Study Conviction Through Enhanced Fingerprint Identification. Bertillon Lab Activity. By using measuring tapes, students measured the length of their torsos, length of arm from elbow to middle finger and hand from wrist to. Side One. Side Two. Arrest card, ca. Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, D.C.. An arrest card for 17 year old.

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Generally, law enforcement of the late 19th and very early 20th centuries believed that each individual had a unique combination of measurements of different body parts, and comparing these measurements could be used to distinguish between individuals.

List at least 2 reasons why the Bertillon system is not and accurate tool to use as evidence in forensics. The choice of features to be measured had to be based on their non-correlation as well as on their fixity and clarity.

Lab: The Bertillon Anthropometric System

Today, fingerprint analysis is used by law enforcement agencies all over the world to track down criminals and conclusively identify them. Recent opinions suggest that Will and William West were related, therefore the closeness in measurements. What Bertillon did was standardize the process of criminal photography, and added the essential organizational element that allowed the photographs to be of some use to police officers trying to identify suspects and determine if they were in fact repeat offenders.

According to a project that is already on the road to realization, the normal relationship of the State to what Rousseau called the “members of the soveriegn” will be biometric, that is to say, generalized suspicion. Personal tools Log in. Navigation Main page Recent changes. In Documenting Individual Identity: This image was probably used in a ca. The Bertillon Anthropometric System Introduction: His Bertillon measurements were taken and it was found that he’d served a previous term there.


What do feet reveal about a person’s height? The power over biological life was now at fingertips of the police investor in the archive. Alphonse Bertillon was a French policeman who believed that people could be. Bones of the feet can reveal an interesting fact about an individual. Subsequent investigation disclosed that William West was already incarcerated in the facility as of September 9, Will West’s Bertillon Measurements Therefore no one else would possess another person’s exact measurements.

If the new laws were to be enforced, he believed, an accurate system would need to be in place to be able to differentiate between first-offenders and recidivists. The complexity of the Bertillon system—the very thing that provided it with such accurate and reliable data—also proved to be its downfall: Kittler doesn’t tell us how he arrived at this precise figure, and its exactitude is highly dubious.

Even though Bertillon did incorporate photography into his system, he did not fully embrace the medium as a completely effective tool for criminal identification.

The case of Will West destroyed confidence in the Bertillon System literally overnight. Alphonse Bertillon invented “anthropometrics”, a method with which to identify people based upon their individual measurements.

Bertillon System – Dead Media Archive

We will leave these sticky moral and ontological questions for future generations of media archeologists to pursue. A quick note to readers: Agamben continues with an intriguing yet dubious call for a sort of post-human affectivity that might attend the diminution of identity into pure biological data: Bertillon thought his system of anthropometric measurement of the criminal was the answer, and he was uniquely positioned to provide such a solution.


Kittler does, however, point to a common theme in with regards to metric photography—the interaction between art and surveillance: Cole, correctly by all accounts, argues for precisely the opposite hierarchy of Bertillonage components as Kittler: The arc of this technological evolution is important to preserve.

Even the name was the same. Suppose you find a footprint that is. By examining the photographs, one can see the failure of the Bertillon system. Will West continued to deny that the William West card was his. His theory was that each person is highly individual.

Martine Kaluszynski describes the response to the crisis:. He’d served his earlier sentence under the name William West and was now using the name Will West. Hence judicial errors based on false identification will likewise disappear.

Lab: The Bertillon Anthropometric System

They had no doubt that he was the same man. While the grids used to graduate metric photography made for precise measurements they also point up the fact that the body is now made to be entirely quantifiable. Let’s combine math with forensics to see how.

Brtillon the Theory and Practice of Anthropometrical Identification. Thanks to a French genius, errors of identification will soon cease to exist not only in France but also in the entire world.

Politics for the Information Age.

Cole describes how the measurement process would have worked in any routine arrest at the time: File – Forensic Science. West denied that, despite the fact that his bertiklon “proved” that he’d done so.