Strange Case Of How Two Non-Related Men With The Same Name And Identical Looks Sparked The Need For Fingerprinting

2 Posted by - December 3, 2017 - AMAZING IMAGES, BLACK MEN, LATEST POSTS

They looked identical and even shared the same name, but the two prisoners pictured were actually different people and their remarkable case helped bring in the era of fingerprint identification.

The man above was called Will West, the man below William West, and they were both sentenced to jail at Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas over 100 years ago.

The arrival of Will West in 1903 caused the records clerk at the prison considerable confusion, because he was convinced he’d processed him two years previously.

Where there's a Will: In 1903 Will West arrived at Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas, where the records clerk was certain that he'd seen him before

Where there’s a Will: In 1903 Will West arrived at Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas, where the records clerk was certain that he’d seen him before

The record clerk pulled out this file photo of William West, who looked almost identical to Will West

The record clerk pulled out this file photo of William West, who looked almost identical to Will West

The clerk, M.W. McClaughry, asked Will West if he’d ever been to the prison before.

West said he hadn’t.

McClaughry then set about taking his Bertillon measurements – named after the French policeman Alphonse Bertillon – which was the usual method of identifying people and involved recording the dimensions of key physical features.

McClaughry, still convinced the man before him had already been to the prison, looked up his name in his filing system and found one William West – who looked identical to Will West in the photographs in every respect.

They even shared the same Bertillon measurements.

But Will West insisted to McClaughry that it was not him: ‘That’s my picture, but I don’t know where you got it, for I know I have never been here before.’

To McClaughry’s shock, he was absolutely right, too. William West was a different person altogether and in fact had been admitted to the prison two years previously for murder.

The case highlighted the flaws in the Bertillon method and it wasn’t long before the U.S authorities turned to fingerprinting.

Its pioneer was Scotland Yard’s Sgt. John K. Ferrier, who met McClaughry at the St Louis World Fair in 1904 while he was guarding the Crown Jewels, which were on tour.

He told the U.S prison officer how Scotland Yard had been using fingerprinting for the past three years and evangelised its accuracy.

McClaughry was sold, and after being instructed on the technique he introduced it to Leavenworth Prison. America’s first national fingerprint repository was established shortly afterwards.

The use of fingerprints had actually begun in 1858 with Sir William James Herschel, Chief Magistrate of the Hooghly district in Jungipoor, India, who asked locals to stamp their business contracts with their palms. However, he did this on a hunch that it would be a good way of identifying someone, not because he knew the science behind it.

Original Article Found At Dailymail.co.uk — http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1392418/The-amazing-pictures-sparked-need-fingerprinting.html#ixzz3YUWOensT

 

15 Comments

  • annie June 14, 2016 - 9:53 am Reply

    Where is the picture of the other man because the pictures are duplicates with the same clothing and background

  • Mia October 21, 2017 - 1:36 pm Reply

    Um…they are prison photos and they are different. Look at the collars.

  • Tina December 4, 2017 - 10:50 am Reply

    Second man looks a little older, hairline receding a little more, darker or thicker brows, eyes a little different. I wonder what their birthdates were, especially year of birth and where they were born.

  • Erick Dean Tippett December 4, 2017 - 2:36 pm Reply

    Can we get any birth data on these two men? As an astrologer/numerologist I am interested in research
    on these subjects?

  • Wendell December 5, 2017 - 6:06 pm Reply

    Its called a prison uniform..smh

  • […] Año 1903, W. McClaughry ingresa a Will West en la Penitenciaría de Leavenworth en Kansas. Sin embargo, por el camino no deja de pensar en la cara del criminal. Estaba seguro de que ya lo había encerrado dos años antes, parecía tener una especie de déja vu. […]

  • […] Año 1903, W. McClaughry ingresa a Will West en la Penitenciaría de Leavenworth en Kansas. Sin embargo, por el camino no deja de pensar en la cara del criminal. Estaba seguro de que ya lo había encerrado dos años antes, parecía tener una especie de déja vu. […]

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    The book – The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson By Mark Twain – put this in the context of “one drop” rule with race and slavery. Worth a read.

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