Alphonse Bertillon

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Alphonse Bertillon
BirthplaceParis, France
law enforcement officer and biometrics researcher

Bertillon, Alphonse


Born Apr. 22,1853, inParis; died there on Feb. 3, 1914. French criminologist who devised several police methods for solving criminal cases.

Bertillon was the head of the bureau of forensic identification of the Paris prefecture. The system of methods devised by Bertillon for forensic identification (establishing identity) is called Bertillonage in bourgeois criminology. The system included anthropometry, a verbal portrait, descriptive photography (a technical means of portrait photography in which a person’s distinctive features are highlighted very clearly), and a description of a person’s distinctive marks. Beginning in 1890 and until the early 20th century, Bertillonage was used by the police of all countries, but later it was gradually replaced by a new system of criminal registration, fingerprinting. Bertillon appeared in the legal proceedings of the Dreyfus affair as a legal handwriting expert and gave false testimony that ascribed the authorship of a document—the bordereau—to Dreyfus.

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Le critere de << Race >> retenu sur la fiche, suivi de la parenthese << en cas d'exotisme >>, s'inscrit dans la continuite de l'illustration photographique (face et profil) de jeunes femmes gitanes choisie par AIphonse Bertillon comme l'une des categories de la typologie des criminels (1893 : Planche 60b) presentee sous l'intitule << Ressemblance physionomique entre deux individus de meme race (Gitanes) [much greater than], et montre que la representation des Tsiganes releve aussi au sein de l'ideologie republicaine d'une vision racialiste de l'alterite.
In his 1896 police handbook Signalectic Instructions: Including the Theory and Practice of Anthropometrical Identification, Bertillon instructs, "If the subject in question were a real negro, with black skin, the indication negro type on the dotted line of the DESCRIPTIVE INFORMATION would replace advantageously all other description" (183).
The process of identification of inmates using the Bertillon System, followed by the development of fingerprinting, the process of parole and management of inmates through programming, are all items that this text indicates Leavenworth having played a part in developing.
Alfonse Bertillon, while working for the Paris police department in the late 1800s developed a system of physical measurements to better identify criminals.
In 1893, the French physician Jacques Bertillon introduced the Bertillon Classification of Causes of Death.
Cette democratisation du visage s'accompagne de son utilisation a des fins policieres et judiciaires et l'ceuvre anthropometrique de Bertillon marque la fin du XIXe siecle.
The first codification system was the Bertillon Classification, or International List of Causes of Death, developed before the turn of the 20th century.