How the mugshot came to be

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In the first decades after the invention of photography, police forces began assembling "rogues galleries," collections of images of suspected and convicted criminals.

These galleries were rarely organized in any systematic way, much to the chagrin of Alphonse Bertillon, who began his career as a clerk in the Prefecture of Police in Paris in 1879.

Seeking to create some kind of orderly system for recording the features of suspected criminals and organizing them in a useful way, Bertillon developed a system of anthropometrics that came to be called the Bertillon system.

Check out the original documentations below:

19 PHOTOS
The first mugshots and documenting criminals/victims
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The first mugshots and documenting criminals/victims
Alphonse Bertillon (1853-1914), French scholar, developed the criminal anthropometry. Self-portrait ID following his own methods made on August 7 1912, at the age of 59. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthropometric system of Alphonse Bertillon. Photographic studio in the courtyard of the Pr��f��cture de Police of Paris (France). In 1894. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthropometric system of Alphonse Bertillon. The photographic studio of the Pr��f��cture de Police of Paris (France). In 1894. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthropometric system of Alphonse Bertillon. The photographic studio of the Pr��f��cture de Police of Paris (France). In 1894. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthropometric system of Alphonse Bertillon. The room in which measurement are noted. Paris (France). In 1894. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthropometric system of Alphonse Bertillon. The way to photograph a dead body. Paris (France). In 1894. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthropometric system of Alphonse Bertillon. Measurement of the skull. Paris (France). In 1894. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthropometric system of Alphonse Bertillon. Measurement of the length of the foot. Paris (France). In 1894. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthropometric system of Alphonse Bertillon. The record cabinet. Paris (France). In 1894. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthropometric system of Alphonse Bertillon. Measurement of the human body. Paris (France). In 1894. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthropometric system of Alphonse Bertillon. Measurement of the iris undertone. Paris (France). In 1894. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthropometric system of Alphonse Bertillon. Measurement of the foot. Paris (France). In 1894. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthropometric system of Alphonse Bertillon. Measurement of the length of the elbow. Paris (France). In 1894. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthropometric system of Alphonse Bertillon. Measurement of the skull. Paris (France). In 1894. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthropometric system of Alphonse Bertillon. Measurement of the width of the ear. Paris (France). In 1894. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthropometric system of Alphonse Bertillon. Comparative forms of the ear. Paris (France). In 1894. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthropometric system of Alphonse Bertillon. Comparative forms of the nose. Paris (France). In 1894. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Anthropometric system of Alphonse Bertillon. Comparative forms of the face. Paris (France). In 1894. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
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Five primary measurements were recorded: the length of the head, breadth of the head, length of the middle finger, length of the left foot and length of the "cubit," or length from the elbow to the end of the middle finger.

These measurements were then organized in a complex filing system that allowed an individual's record to be retrieved based on his particular combination of features.

Bertillon also devised a special top-down tripod for photographing murder scenes with forensic accuracy, as well as other investigative innovations.

His most enduring invention, however, was the iconic "mug shot" — a frontal portrait paired with a profile.

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