History of Forensic Science


Earliest Method of Forensics in China

Approx. 300 AD

The earliest method of forensic science in an investigation was used in China. Pigs were put into a small enclosure, set on fire, and cut open to see if the effect of burning matched the effect of burning on a human.

16th-17th Century Methods of Trial

Approx. 1600 - Approx. 1700

People accused of being guilty for a crime would undergo torture, and were only proven innocent if God gave them strength to resist the pain from torture.

Carl W. Scheele

Approx. 1775

A Swedish chemist who devised a test for detecting Arsenic in dead bodies. In 1806, Valentin Ross discovered a more precise method for detecting small amounts of Arsenic.

Mathieu Orilla

Approx. 1814

Mathieu Orilla, also known as the "Father of Forensic Toxicology" publishes an article on detection of poisons and effects.

Photography in Forensic Science

Approx. 1850 - 1860

Photographs were beginning to be used in investigations for more accurate recordings.


Approx. 1879 - Approx. 1903

Alphonse Bertillon introduces the Bertillon system, also known as Anthropometry. The system identified people based on their physical appearance. It was later replaced by fingerprinting in 1903.

Criminal Investigation

Approx. 1893

"Criminal Investigation" by Hans Gross is published, the first book of criminal investigation using forensic science.

ABO Blood Typing

Approx. 1901

ABO blood typing discovered by Karl Landsteiner.

Questioned Documents


"Questioned Documents" published by Albert Osborn.

Edmond Locard

Approx. 1913

Locard's Exchange Principle by Edmond Locard

When two objects come into contact with each other, a cross-transfer of materials occurs that can connect a criminal suspect to the victim or the crime scene. Locard also started the first known police crime lab.

Los Angeles PD Crime Lab


Los Angeles PD Crime Lab opens, first crime lab to open in the USA.

FBI National Laboratory


FBI National Laboratory opens under Director J. Edgar Hoover in Quantico, VA.

Walter McCrone

Approx. 2000

"Father of Modern Microscopy" McCrone furthered the understanding of light microscopes for material analysis.