History of Forensic Science

Events

Earliest Application of Forensic Science

201 AD - 300 AD

Woman told authorities that her husband burned in fire; Chinese scientist cut open pigs throats and to find if carbon dioxide poisoning killed them, and used that application to find out whether husband died from Carbon Dioxide poisoning.

Swedish Chemist makes detecting test

1775

Carl W. Scheele devised test for detecting Arsenic in corpses (the inheritance powder)

Chemical Test 1

1806

Valentin Ross (German) discovered more precise 
method for detecting small amounts of Arsenic

Chemical Test 2

1814

Mathieu Orilla  (Spanish) aka 'Father of Forensic 
Toxicology' published article on detection of poisons and 
effects

Microscope 1

1828

Polarizing microscope invented

Chemical Test 3

1839

1st use of toxicological evidence in criminal trial

Microscope 2

1839

First microscopic detection of sperm

Photographs

1850

Photographs (allowed more accurate recording)

Chemical Test 4

1863

1st presumptive test for blood

Bertillon's system

1879

Alphonse Bertillon (French) introduced the Bertillon's 
system (aka Anthropometry)

a system for identifying people by their physical appearance
was considered to be the most accurate method of personal 
identiication for nearly 2 decades
replaced by ingerprinting in 1903

Sherlock Holmes

1887 - 1893

The most inluential ictional character  created 
by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; his inluence 
can be compared to that of the modern CSI shows 
today.

Jack the Ripper

1888

London terrorized by a serial killer "Jack the Ripper"

Criminal Investigation

1893

1st book of criminal investigation using 
forensic science

Walter McCrone

1901

'Father of Modern Microscopy'
could identify any substance by looking through microscope

Blood Type

1901

ABO blood typing discovered by Karl Landsteiner

Will West

1903

Case of misidentiication of two men  whose 
Bertillon's  measurements were nearly identical.  
It led to the end of Anthropometry

Questioned Documents by Albert Osborn

1910

Albert Osborn published Question Documents

Locards Exchange

1913

When 2 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.

Crime Lab 1

1923

Los Angeles PD Crime Lab (the first in USA)

Crime Lab 2

1930

University of California at Berkeley Criminalistics 
Department led by Dr. Paul Kirk

Crime Lab 3

1932

FBI National Laboratory opens under Director J. Edgar 
Hoover

Crime Lab 4

1981

FBI Forensic Science Research & Training Center opens