SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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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.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

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]


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.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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