1935 February 7

Fingerprint Everyone! FBI Begins National Program


FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover initiated a national campaign on this day to have all Americans fingerprinted and with the prints sent to the FBI. Many prominent Americans joined in the campaign, including John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The “first step” in the planned program was to require the fingerprinting of all public employees. The campaign soon lost its momentum, however, and no national fingerprint registry of all Americans was ever developed.

Learn about today’s FBI fingerprint and biometrics programs:

Learn about the weak “science” underlying fingerprints: David Harris, Failed Evidence: Why Law Enforcement Resists Science (2012)

Learn more: Athan Theoharis, The FBI & American Democracy: A Brief Critical History (2004)

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