Ohio State Penitentiary
Record of "The First Fingerprint", 1910, From the OSP Bertillon Ledger, BV 7097, pg. 42
Courtesy of the Ohio History Connection
DescriptionThis opening from the Ohio State Penitentiary’s early-twentieth-century Register of Anthropometric Descriptions shows vividly the fanfare with which the arrival of fingerprinting technology was greeted by the American penal system. John Manning, prisoner number 39875, was the first person to have his fingerprints taken and classified as part of an effort to maintain state control over the identity of the incarcerated. His fingerprint encoding can be seen in the circle to right, a series of alphanumeric symbols above the words “For description…”
The system of anthropometric measurement fingerprinting replaced an approach known familiarly as Bertillonnage, a protocol for quantifying perception that is explored through this exhibition.
Researcher: Alison Langmead