In 1879 French police officer and biometric researcher Alphonse Bertillon first published a description of his method of anthropometry. He developed this system, which used five measurements— head length, head breadth, length of middle finger, length of left foot, and length of forearm from elbow to extremeity of middle finger — as a means for identifying people. It was the first scientific method for the identification of criminals. Until this time, criminals could only be identified based on eyewitness accounts, which were known to be unreliable.
Bertillon first employed his method, which was eventually called "Bertillonage," in the successful identification of a criminal in 1883. It became the first extensively used scientific method of criminal identification.