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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE NEW ZEALAND FOREST, c. 1950

Whorl Girl: 1918

Whorl Girl: 1918

1918. "Navy Department, intelligence bureau. Finger print department clerk Marie S. Dahm." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

What a wonderful ... whorl

Looks like her hair has as many whorls as some of those fingerprints.

What's the point

What's that pointy thing sticking up from her engagement ring? Page turner?

[It's the business end of her stylus. - Dave]

Fingerprints

Miss Dahm is counting ridges, bifurcations (where ridges split to become two ridges) and termination points of ridges, their relationship to each other and all dutifully noted on the card in meticulous detail. There is a glass plate under the lens that rests on the card so that she can steady the tip of the stylus on the surface as she counts and traces and maps the anatomy of the fingerprint without compromising the original card. In the future we will probably be printed, micro-chipped and bar-coded at birth, putting all these people out of work.

Modern technology for old biometrics

Just a random thought here...I've noticed that a lot of these old photos here have fingerprints on them, and that some are fairly clear. I wonder if it would be possible to take the digital fingerprint, enhance it some, and actually run it through old digitized databases like military or prison records. This could be a way to find out maybe who has handled the photo. Now that would be some really cool! Although, this probably wouldn't be a useful idea unless there were a lot of old records, with fingerprints, that have been scanned in a high enough definition. Also, it would probably take an enormous amount of computing power to scan them all. Oh well, it's neat to think about it anyway.

Human Resources

Whoever was doing the hiring at Naval Intelligence really knew how to pick 'em. First Mrs Boswell from Shorpy's "Print My Finger: 1918" and now this great shot of Ms Dahm.

We have come a long way...

From her job, to what they show on CSI nowadays.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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