Bibliography as Anthropometry: Dreaming Scientific Order at the fin de siècle


The 1890s saw an explosion of ambitious projects to build a massive classification of knowledge that would serve as a basis for universal catalogues of scientific publishing. The largest of these were the rival International Catalogue of Scientific Literature (London) and Répertoire Bibliographique Universel (Brussels). This essay argues that one widely influential but overlooked source of the enthusiasm for classification as a technology of search and retrieval during this period was the emergence of new methods and technologies for classifying and keeping track of people, and in particular, the criminal identification laboratory of Alphonse Bertillon located in Paris.