Juan Vucetich (1858–1925)
Juan Vucetich (1858–1925), an Argentinian police official, devised the first workable system of fingerprint identification, and pioneered the first use of fingerprint evidence in a murder investigation. As a young man, Vucetich emigrated from Croatia to Argentina, where he took a job in the La Plata Police Office of Identification and Statistics. After reading an article in a French journal on Francis Galton's experiments with fingerprints as a means of identification, Vucetich began collecting fingerprints, taken from arrested men, while also making Bertillon-style anthropometric measurements. He soon devised a useable system to group and classify fingerprints, which he called dactyloscopy.
Vucetich demonstrated the utility of fingerprint evidence in an 1892 case, which resulted in the identification and conviction of a suspect for first-degree murder. Shortly after that, he broke entirely with Bertillon, arguing that a full ten-finger set of fingerprints was sufficient for identification, and that complicated anthropometric measurements were unnecessary.
In 1900, the Argentine Republic began issuing a kind of internal passport which included fingerprints—a practice that was eventually adopted by many other countries. The 1904 publication of Dactiloscopía Comparada, Vucetich's definitive work on fingerprint identification, and his travels to other countries, helped to spread his system throughout the world, especially in Spanish-speaking countries.