In 1903, a prisoner named Will West arrived at Leavenworth. The record clerk took the photographs above and, thinking he remembered West, asked whether he had been there before. West said no.
The clerk took some measurements, went to the file, and produced this record, bearing the name William West:
Amazed, the prisoner said, “That’s my picture, but I don’t know where you got it, for I know I have never been here before.”
Incredibly, this was true. A different William West had been serving a life sentence at Leavenworth since 1901, and the new prisoner had the same name, face, and measurements.
The case became a strong argument in favor of the new science of fingerprinting.