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Lookalikes With the Same Name Are the Reason Why Fingerprinting Became Necessary

The men looked like they could be twins and even had the same name, but their fingerprints proved they were actually two different unrelated people.

It was 1903 at the Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas when prison clerk M.W. McClaughry did a double take (literally!) when a prisoner named Will West arrived to be processed. You, McClaughry was pretty sure that he had already processed the man’s records in 1901.

When McClaughry asked West if he had gone through the process before, the latter said that it was his first time there.

Still doubting West’s answer, McClaughry looked for the file of Will West and found it. It showed mugshots of a man that looked like the guy in front of him.

They could be twins!

Will-West

Photo credit: Leavenworth Penitentiary

West saw the file and mugshots, too, but he insisted, “That’s my picture, but I don’t know where you got it, for I know I have never been here before.”

Thus, McClaughry went about taking West’s Bertillon measurements. It’s a procedure named after the French policeman Alphonse Bertillon and involves measuring key physical features.

Much to McClaughry’s surprise, the man in front of him and the man in the mugshots shared almost the same Bertillon measurements. Upon further clarification, though, it was established that there was, indeed, another Will West.

Aside form highlighting the weakness of the Bertillon method, the case also made fingerprinting necessary.

Same face, different fingerprints.

doppelgangers-2

Photo credit: Leavenworth Penitentiary

The fingerprinting procedure was already around since 1858, when with Sir William James Herschel, Chief Magistrate of the Hooghly district in Jungipoor, India, required people to stamp their business contracts with their palms.

Years later, the procedure was also adopted by Scotland Yard’s Sgt. John K. Ferrier, whom McClaughry was able to meet at the St Louis World Fair in 1904.

With Ferrier’s help McClaughry then found out all he could about the use of fingerprinting and its accuracy in identifying criminals. He then brought the process to Leavenworth Prison.

Thus, we have the two Will Wests to thank for the development in crime investigation. Otherwise, a lot of lookalikes would be in trouble.

History

Rich Japanese Women Hires Servants to Take the Blame for their Farts

We all have that one friend who always blames others for his or her farts!

What would be your personal definition of luxury? Would it be owning an expensive house? Or having several luxury cars, perhaps? Excessive partying? Travelling the world?

Well, Japanese noblewomen from the Edo period (1603-1868) had a bizarre idea.

For them, the ultimate comfort in life is to have a heoibikuni – a servant woman whose duty is to, of course, serve her employer. A heoibikuni does everything from mundane tasks to the most absurd of responsibilities. Such as owning up to their boss’ gaseous emissions....

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History

Graphic Illustrations That Reveal The Horror of Surgery During the Nineteenth Century

Now I understand why people are afraid of doctors.

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Have you ever wondered how things were done before surgery was considered safe and before the operating room was considered sterile?

Well, you're about to find out.

A recent publication entitled Crucial Interventions vividly illustrates how some surgeries were performed during the nineteenth century - the period that witnessed the complete revolution of the practice of surgery, when antisepsis was introduced, and when barbers stopped performing surgical procedures. Some illustrations are morbidly graphic, it just makes me cringe! Imagine if the surgical procedures are still performed this way today....

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History

Researchers Discover a Fascinating Version of Facebook in the 16th Century

Social networking in the 16th century.

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With Facebook becoming a mainstream media for communicating as well as interacting with friends, it is certainly hard to imagine life without it.

Interestingly, people in the past had their own version of social network as early as 1560.

Recently, researchers discovered what was called alba amicorum or “friend books”, which were carried around by noble young men and women of Northern Europe to establish professional and personal relationships. ...

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