Eastern Iowa City was the first in the United States to take the fingerprints of all residents
The history of fingerprints goes back a long way. I mean WAY back. And Iowa is part of that story.
Handprints used in burglary investigations date back to 221-206 BC in China. In the 1400s, a book mentioned identifying people with fingerprints. Their use has only increased over time.
On May 21, 1934, the city of Oskaloosa in Mahaska County in southeast Iowa passed a law requiring all of its citizens to take their fingerprints. Oskaloosa City Council’s vote that day made the city the first city in the whole country to take the fingerprints of everyone who lived there. According to a Facebook post attributed to This Date in Twisted History, the then county mayor and sheriff said:
We know these people, and eventually one of them is either going to steal a chicken, tell a minor pig that she’s loved, steal the mayor’s moonlight that’s stored behind her outhouse, or rob a bank. Give it time and once that happens we’ll be happy to have those fingerprints stored.
The timing of the new law lends itself to the above being true. The nation was just beginning to move to the other side of the Great Depression, which had officially ended the year before. A recent Iowa Almanac story tells more about this part of Iowa history.
You can consult the main laws adopted in the year of your birth under this video which deals with the Oskaloosa law.
LOOK: What important laws were passed in the year you were born?
The data in this list was acquired from reliable online sources and media. Read on to find out which major law was passed in the year you were born, and learn its name, vote count (if any), impact, and meaning.
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