Michele Triplett's Fingerprint Terms ©
A collection of over 1000 terms used in the Science of Fingerprint Identification.

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Babler, Dr. William Joseph (May 24, 1949-present)
Dr. Babler is recognized as the foremost authority in the structure and formation 
of friction skin.  He is an Associate Professor of Oral Biology teaching human 
anatomy and embryology at Indiana University School of Dentistry.  In addition, 
he served as the President of the American Dermatoglyphics Association, where 
he received their Distinguished Service Award in 2003. Dr. Babler has spent over 
20 years researching the prenatal development of friction skin, writing numerous 
articles explaining his findings.  He has confirmed many scientific theories about 
friction ridge formation as well as developed new theories.  He has established 
that the patterns on the fingers are a result of the shape of the volar pads when 
the friction skin begins to develop; high volar pads create whorls while low volar 
pads create arches.  This was presumed by Mulvihill and Smith but Dr. Babler did 
the research that confirmed their hypotheses.  Dr. Babler was also recognized 
as a leading expert in the Daubert Hearings.  
Besides the significant contributions he has made in the scientific arena, Dr. Babler 
has also demonstrated himself to be a profound teacher.  He has spent countless 
time educating forensic examiners and has continually made himself available as 
an educational resource.

Ball Area
The large cushion area below the base of the big toe.
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

Balthazard, Dr. Victor (1872-1950)
A Professor of Forensic Medicine at Sorbonne.  Balthazard is credited 
for his statistical model of fingerprint individuality, published in 
1911.  His model was very simplistic and ignored relevant information 
but was the foundation for others to develop improved statistical models.  
Balthazard's work was the basis for Locard's Tripartite Rule.

Basal Layer of Epidermis
See Stratum Basale.

Basement Membrane
A thin, delicate layer of connective tissue underlying the epithelium of many 
organs. Also called basement lamina.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=basement%20membrane

A membrane separating the dermis from the epidermis. The basement membrane 
consists of an upper layer, (lamina lucida) and a lower layer (lamina densa).
Professor Julian Verbov 2011

Basic Fuschin
Fluorescent dye used with selected wavelengths of light to visualize 
cyanoacrylate ester fumed friction ridge detail.  See Rosaniline chloride.
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

Basic Red 28
Fluorescent red dye used with selected wavelengths of light 
to visualize cyanoacrylate ester fumed friction ridge detail.
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

Basic Yellow 40
Fluorescent yellow dye used with selected wavelengths of light to visualize 
cyanoacrylate ester fumed friction ridge detail.  
See Panacryl Brilliant Flavone 10GFF.  See Maxilon Flavone 10GFF.
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

Bayes, Rev. Thomas (1702-1761)
A British mathematician and Presbyterian minister, known for having 
formulated Bayes' theorem.  Bayes Theorem was first introduced in "An 
Essay Towards Solving a Problem in the Doctrine of Chances" published 
in 1763.

Battley Classification System
A classification system for single fingerprints used in the 1930’s.

Bayes Theorem
A mathematical approach to solving logic problem by looking at the 
probability of an event happening given that some other event has already 
occurred.  This approach optimizes the probability by modeling the sample 
space after the realistic instead of after the entirety.  

Bayle, Allan J. (Oct. 11, 1950-present)
Allan Bayle served with the Metropolitan Police Service for 25 years at New Scotland 
Yard as a Fingerprint Officer and later was regraded as an Identification Officer.  
This new grade encompassed expertise in fingerprints and forensic scene examination, 
completing five operational tours of duty, and examining all types of scenes of crime. 
In 1993, he received a commendation for outstanding scene examination. From August 
1996 until May 2001, he lectured at the Scientific Support College for the Metropolitan 
Police Training Establishment in Hendon. Subjects included basic fingerprint foundation, 
advanced fingerprint, cadavers/chemical, and basic and advanced forensic awareness 
courses. He has been an advisor to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) led 
Project Board for fingerprint training which included ridgeology and designing a 
ridgeology course for future experts in the U.K. 
He also testified in Philadelphia before Judge Pollak in the US v Plaza case stating 
that he thought the F.B.I.'s proficiency tests was too easy. 
His work on the McKie, Asbury and McNamara cases forced him to resign and start a 
consultancy, which includes lecturing, advising on all fingerprint, forensic scene 
examination matters, training and investigating miscarriages of justice world wide.

Beck, Adolf (or Adolph) (1895)
An early case of erroneous identification by eyewitness testimony and personal 
recognition.  In 1896, Adolf Beck was sentenced to 7 years for defrauding women out 
of their jewelry in London.  The main evidence against him was the testimony of 10 
women who identified him as the man who had robbed them, William Thomas aka John 
Smith, yet Beck insisted he was innocent and he was not this man.  He served 5 years 
of the sentence before being released on good behavior in July 1901.  On April 15, 
1904 Beck was again accused of stealing jewelry from a young lady.   He was again 
found guilty but before being sentence, the real William Thomas was arrested for 
the same crimes and the fact that these two men seemed to be doubles of each other 
was discovered.  On July 19, 1904, Beck was pardoned and given 5000 pounds for 
compensation.  Although some claim there were remarkable similarities between 
these two men, there were obvious documented differences between them.

The Belper Committee
In 1894, Britains Troup Committee enacted the procedure of adding fingerprints to 
Bertillon cards.  During this time, these fingerprints were not used for identification 
purposes.  In the early 1900's, the British Home Secretary convened a committee to resolve 
the competing claims of anthropometry and fingerprinting. This committee was headed by 
Lord Henry Belper and became known as The Belper Committee. In Dec. 1900, the Belper 
Committee recommended taking fingerprints and classifying them by the Henry system. 
Implementation began in 1901.

Benzidine
Once considered to be the best technique for developing bloody latent prints 
on nonporous items.  Benzidine has been found to be a carcinogen and is no 
longer considered to be a viable process.

Berry, John B.E.M. (Aug. 26, 1926-Nov. 11, 2011)
Berry was born in 1926 in Birmingham, England. He served in the British Army from 1944 to 
1948, stationed in Germany. Upon demobilization, he entered the police service, joining 
the fingerprint bureau in 1955. He served in the bureau for 20 years, having the rank of 
sergeant from 1960 to 1975. He retired from the police service in 1975 and joined the 
Hertfordshire Constabulary Fingerprint Bureau as a civilian technician. The Hertfordshire 
Bureau was a hive of activity because The Fingerprint Society originated there. Berry edited 
The Society’s journal FINGERPRINT WHORLD, first published in July 1975, and he subsequently 
edited 64 consecutive quarterly issues, until retiring from the bureau in 1991. In 1989 he 
was awarded the British Empire Medal by H.M. The Queen for ‘services to fingerprints’. In 
retirement, Berry continued with fingerprint research publishing 25 annual editions of his 
brainchild ‘Ridge Detail in Nature’ (renamed ‘Strabismus’ in 1998).

Bertillon, Alphonse (April 22 or 23, 1853-Feb. 13, 1914)
Alphonse Bertillon devised a meticulous method of measuring body parts as a means of 
identification, known as ‘The Bertillon Method of Identification’ or ‘Anthropometry’.  
It was first used in 1883 and was found to be slightly flawed in 1903 (known as the 
Will West Case).  The West case did not end the use of Anthropometry but it did 
establish that Anthropometry didn’t individualize all people. Even though the 
Bertillon system didn’t provide perfect results, it did provide sufficient results 
and was very useful in its day.  
Bertillon is also credited with solving the first crime involving latent prints 
without having a suspect.  Bertillon identified latent prints found on a piece of 
glass, from the murder scene of Joseph Reibel, as being left by Henri Leon Scheffer's.  
Bertillon found the identification by searching his files one person at a time.  
The date of the murder was October 17, 1902 and the identification was made on October 
24, 1902. This is published in "Alphonse Bertillon: Father of Scientific Detection", 
Henry Rhodes (1956).

Bertillon Method of Identification
See Bertillon, Alphonse

Bertillonage
Bertillon's method of anthropometry.
Quantitative-Qualitative Friction Ridge Analysis, David R. Ashbaugh 1999 CRC Press

Betts Case - Ohio 1917
The Betts case may have been the first conviction based solely on palm print 
evidence.  In 1917, Samual W. Betts was arrested and charged with burglary based 
on the fact that his palm print was found on a windowpane.  George Koestle (one 
of Ferrier's students) was the person who took and compared the palm prints.
'Fingerprint and Identification Magazine', Dec 1942.

Another palm print case that happened around the same time, and also said to be 
the first palm print case to have a conviction, was a murder trial in Nevada.  
The defendant was Ben Kuhl.

Bewick, Thomas (1753-1828)
An English engraver noted for carving fingerprint stamps.  Galton credits him as 
the first well-known person to study ridges as a means of identification ("Finger 
Prints", 1892 pg. 26).

Bias
An influence based on impertinent information rather than objective data. Information 
such as the case type, the conclusion of others, other identifications, other evidence 
against a subject, a confession, etc., may be relevant information to determine the 
resources put into a case (time, money, effort); but are irrelevant as data to support 
or refute a fingerprint conclusion. The amount of influence any piece of information 
has on a conclusion may be difficult to impossible to establish; however, bias is more 
likely to occur when the data is very general or vague. Bias can be significantly 
minimized by interpreting data in a way that would hold up under intense scrutiny.

See cognitive bias, confirmation bias, and contextual bias.

Bichromatic ™ Latent Print Powder
A multi-colored powder used to process an object with the purpose of visualizing 
friction ridge detail.  To avoid damaging a latent print, powders are best applied 
with a camel hair or fiberglass brush.

Bichromatic ™ Latent Print Powder is a combination of black and silver/gray powder 
which can be dusted on a light or dark surface. On a light-colored surface, the 
latent print will appear dark so it can be seen and photographed easily. On a dark-
colored surface, it will appear light. When lifted with tape and placed on a white 
backing card, the latent print will appear dark.
http://www.redwop.com/technotes.asp?ID=85  07-11-2004

See Fingerprint Powders.

Bidloo, Govard (1649-1713)
An anatomist, credited with writing the first book, titled "Human Anatomy", 
with detailed drawings of fingerprints and pores in 1685.

Bifurcation
The point at which one friction ridge divides into two friction ridges.
SWGFAST, Standard Terminology of Friction Ridge Examination 3-23-11 ver. 3.0

Divide into two branches.
Quantitative-Qualitative Friction Ridge Analysis, David R. Ashbaugh 1999 CRC Press

Biohazard
Biological agent or condition (as an infectious organism or insecure laboratory 
conditions) that constitutes a hazard.
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

Biological
Of plant and animal life.
Quantitative-Qualitative Friction Ridge Analysis, David R. Ashbaugh 1999 CRC Press

Biological Uniqueness (also see Law of Biological Uniqueness)
The Scientific Law that states that all items in nature are unique.

Black Box
A testing method to assess a complex system by focusing on the inputs and outputs, 
i.e. data and conclusions, and not looking at the internal system of how the end 
result is arrived at.

In psychology, the mind is usually referred to as a black box.

See White Box.

Black Box Study
The Black Box Study is a research project examining the accuracy and 
reliability rates of latent print comparisons conducted by Noblis and the FBI, 
published in April 2011. The results were published under the title “Accuracy 
and Reliability of Forensic Latent Print Decisions”. This study assessed the 
conclusions but not the supporting justification behind the conclusions.  3% 
of the examiners made erroneous individualizations. Since the identifications 
were not duplicated by others, it was determined that blind verification would 
have found these errors. The erroneous identification rate was .1%. 85% of 
the examiners made erroneous exclusions. The erroneous exclusion rate was 7.5%. 
The practitioners were aware that this was a research study. Errors were 
determined by ground truth knowledge.  In March of 2012, additional results 
were published under the title “Repeatability and Reproducibility of Decisions 
by Latent Fingerprint Examiners”. This study found that examiners repeated 
their own individualizations 89.1% of the time and repeated their own exclusions 
90.1% of the time. The repeatability was lower in prints assessed to be more 
difficult.

Black Light
Black Light is the series of electromagnetic wavelengths in the Ultraviolet 
light spectrum with frequencies ranging from approximately 345-400nm.  This 
frequency is referred to as black light because of the absence of color that 
occurs.  Some objects can be seen using black lights that are invisible with 
normal lights.

Black Powder 
A powder used to process an object with the purpose of visualizing friction 
ridge detail.  Typically latent print powder is black but is available in a 
wide range of colors.  To avoid damaging a latent print, powders are best 
applied with a camel hair or fiberglass brush.
See Fingerprint Powders.

Blaschko, Alfred (March 4, 1858-March 26, 1922)
Alfred Blaschko was a German dermatologist who did extensive studies on 
embryology and dermatology and how they related to each other.  He is 
sometimes referred to in fingerprint books for his early studies of the dermal 
and epidermal layers (1884, 1887).  Dr. Wilder credits Blaschko as the first 
person to emphasize differences in the integument and attempts a classification 
for these differences.  He is most noted for describing a system of lines on the 
human skin which the linear naevi and dermatoses follow, known as Blaschko 
lines.

Blind Testing
A valid scientific method of testing a hypothesis. This method is implemented 
by limiting the information given to practitioners analyzing the data with the 
intent of decreasing the amount of bias being introduced into an examination. 
For example, if practitioners are not privy to previous conclusions, confirmation 
bias and conformation bias will be decreased. If practitioners do not know 
case information, contextual bias will be decreased. This method of testing is 
especially useful in areas of an examination that are inherently subjective (when 
the potential for bias is elevated). Deciding what information to restrict is 
dependent on what area of the examination is subjective. Blind Testing tests 
the reliability of a conclusion (the reproducibility) but it does not test the validity 
of the conclusion (how the conclusion was arrived at), therefore blind testing 
is not considered a valid form of peer review. Restricting information may be 
beneficial in testing for bias but it may severely impact a conclusion if relevant 
information is being limited.

See Double Blind Testing.

Blind Verification
A valid scientific method of testing the reliability (reproducibility) of a conclusion by 
giving the same information to others to independently analyze without being influenced 
by knowing the conclusion of others.

The independent examination of one or more friction ridge impressions at any stage of the 
ACE process by another competent examiner who is provided with no, or limited, contextual 
information, and has no expectation or knowledge of the determinations or conclusions of 
the original examiner. 
SWGFAST, Standard Terminology of Friction Ridge Examination 3-23-11 ver. 3.0

See Double Blind Verification.

Boiling Technique
A method to re-hydrate the friction skin of a deceased person. In this method water is boiled 
and them removed from the heat. The hand is submerged in the water for approximately 5 
seconds. If re-hydration is not fully achieved the hand can be re-submerged for another 5 
seconds. The hand is then dried before attempting to record the friction skin detail.

Bonnevie, Kristine Elisabeth Heuch (1872-1950)
A Norwegian zoologist and geneticist who wrote "Studies on Papillary Patterns of 
Human Fingers" in 1924, Journal of Genetics, Cambridge 1924: 15: 1-111.  Her main 
areas of study were genetic inheritance of patterns, cell division and chromosomes, 
the embryology of dermatoglyphics and how the height of the volar pad affects the 
pattern type.  Bonnevie was the first to suggest that the basal layer of the epidermis 
grows faster than either the rest of the epidermis.  The layers growing at different 
rates, creates buckling which produces ridges on the surface of the skin.

Bose, Hemchandra (1897)
Aka Rai Bahadur Hem Chandra Bose or Rai Bahadur Hemchandra Bose.
One of the Indian Police Officers in Bengal who worked for Sir Edward Richard 
Henry and helped him develop the Henry System of Classification.  
http://www.jpgmonline.com/article.asp?issn=0022-3859;year=2000;volume=46;
issue=4;spage=303;epage=8;aulast=Tewari 02-15-2004

Bottom-Up Influences 
One of the two cognitive influences with respect to observational knowledge.  
Bottom-up influences are objective in nature, guided purely by data.

See Top-Down.

Bracelet Creases
The creases located at the base of the palm.  Usually where the friction skin 
ends.

Brachydactyly
Abnormal shortness of fingers and toes.
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

Brady v. Maryland (1963)
The court decision which states that the prosecutor is obligated to disclose 
exculpatory information that may be favorable to the defense.

See United States v Henthorn and Giglio v United States.

Branchings
Friction ridge bifurcation; divergence of a friction ridge path.
Quantitative-Qualitative Friction Ridge Analysis, David R. Ashbaugh 1999 CRC Press

Brayley, Frederick A.
Frederick A. Brayley published the first book on fingerprints in the United States, 
"Brayley's Arrangement of Finger Prints, Identification, and Their Uses", 1910.

Bridge
A connecting friction ridge between, and generally at right angles to, parallel running 
friction ridges.
SWGFAST, Standard Terminology of Friction Ridge Examination 3-23-11 ver. 3.0

Bulb of the Fingers (Thumbs, Toes)
The portion of the friction skin on the tips of fingers, thumbs, or toes in 
the distal phalanx, from one side of the nail to the opposite side of the nail.
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

Bullcoming v. New Mexico (2011)
See Supreme Court of the United States, Bullcoming v. New Mexico (2011).

Bureau of Criminal Identification (Dept. of Justice) / National Bureau of Identification
The Department of Justice created a Bureau of Criminal Identification in 1905 
in order to provide a centralized reference collection of fingerprint cards. 
In 1907, the collection was moved, as a money-saving measure, to Leavenworth 
Federal Penitentiary, where it was staffed by convicts. Understandably 
suspicious of this arrangement, police departments formed their own centralized 
identification bureau maintained by the International Association of Chiefs of 
Police (sometimes referred to as the National Police Bureau).  It refused to 
share its data with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.  In 1924, Congress 
was persuaded to merge the two collections in Washington, D.C., under Bureau 
of Investigation administration. As a result, law enforcement agencies across 
the country began contributing fingerprint cards to the Bureau of Investigation 
by 1926.
http://www.fbi.gov/libref/historic/history/lawless.htm 12-03-2003



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Copyright © 2002-2016, Michele Triplett. All rights reserved.