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In general, the spatial distributions of electron beams from photoinjectors are unknown and are not well approximated by a Gaussian. Therefore, when measuring the emittance, it is important to make no assumptions about the beam’s spatial distribution. A diagnostic that fulfills this requirement uses beam position monitors to measure the second moment of the electron beam’s image charge. This information, coupled with the beam line’s transfer matrix, can be used as an unambiguous measure of the root mean square emittance that is independent of the beam’s spatial distribution. Presented here are the results of the first implementation of this measurement technique on the Sub-Picosecond Accelerator facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory. © 1999 American Institute of Physics.