All Episodes

November 20, 2023 39 mins

Bertillon developed a system of identification via body measurements that was designed to identify whether crime suspects had an existing criminal history. But his contributions to police work have been occluded by some terrible missteps. 


  • Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Alphonse Bertillon". Encyclopedia Britannica, 19 Apr. 2023,
  • “Identifying Prisoners.” St. Louis Globe-Democrat. December 16, 1886.
  • Gates, Kelly. “Our Biometric Future: Facial Recognition Technology and the Culture of Surveillance.” NYU Press. 2011.
  • Fornabai, Nanette L. “Criminal Factors: ‘Fantômas’, Anthropometrics, and the Numerical Fictions of Modern Criminal Identity.” Yale French Studies, no. 108, 2005, pp. 60–73. JSTOR,
  • Fosdick, Raymond B. “The Passing of the Bertillon System of Identification.” Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology, vol. 6, no. 3, 1915, pp. 363–69. JSTOR,
  • Hoobler, Thomas and Dorothy. “The Crimes of Paris: A True Story of Murder, Theft, and Detection.” Little, Brown, and Co. 2009.
  • Levendowski, Amanda, “Face Surveillance Was Always Flawed.” Public Books. Nov. 30, 2021.
  • Mouat, F. J. “Notes on M. Bertillon’s Discourse on the Anthropometric Measurement of Criminals.” The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 20, 1891, pp. 182–98. JSTOR,
  • Wang, Hansi Lo. “Meet Alphonse Bertillon, The Man Behind The Modern Mug Shot.” NPR. March 8, 2016.
  • Daniel V. The Social History of Disaster Victim Identification in the United States, 1865 to 1950. Acad Forensic Pathol. 2020 Mar;10(1):4-15. doi: 10.1177/1925362120941336
  • Helfand, Jessica. “Alphonse Bertillon and the Troubling Pursuit of Human Metrics.” The MIT Press Reader. May 5. 2021.
  • “Alphonse Bertillon (1853-1914).” National Library of Medicine. Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body.
  • Farebrother, R. and Champkin, J. (2014), Alphonse Bertillon and the measure of man: More expert than Sherlock Holmes. Significance, 11: 36-39.
  • Guthrie, Glenice J., and Sharon Jenkins. “Bertillon Files: An Untapped Source of Nineteenth-Century Human Height Data.” Journal of Anthropological Research, vol. 61, no. 2, 2005, pp. 201–15. JSTOR,

See for privacy information.

Mark as Played

Stuff You Missed in History Class News

Advertise With Us

Follow Us On

Hosts And Creators

Tracy V. Wilson

Tracy V. Wilson

Holly Frey

Holly Frey

Show Links


Popular Podcasts

Crime Junkie

Crime Junkie

If you can never get enough true crime... Congratulations, you’ve found your people.

The Dan Bongino Show

The Dan Bongino Show

He’s a former Secret Service Agent, former NYPD officer, and New York Times best-selling author. Join Dan Bongino each weekday as he tackles the hottest political issues, debunking both liberal and Republican establishment rhetoric.

Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.


© 2023 iHeartMedia, Inc.