Alphonse Bertillon

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Alphonse Bertillon
BirthplaceParis, France
law enforcement officer and biometrics researcher
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Alphonse Bertillon 1879-1889 (this unpublished volume was placed by Bertillon in the Archives de la Prefecture de Police de Paris).
The best thing in "I & A" is a cabinet of photographs of arrestees at a Paris police station, made by Alphonse Bertillon in 1890, which proves conclusively that nonart made at the behest of bad science (in this case, the visual study of "criminal types") is much more powerful as ironic post-Modern art than .
The name of Rodolphe Reiss has been overshowed by his higher-profile contemporaries --Edmond Locard, Alphonse Bertillon, Hans Gross, to name a few--but his many contributions should secure him a place of merit in the history of forensic science [2].
Photographs and demonstrational objects that were made and used as part of the anthropometric work of Alphonse Bertillon, Cesare Lombroso, and other 19th-century scientists turn out to be visually potent in an art context; "Identity and Alterity" presents them, in fact, as models some Modern artists followed.