History of Forensic Science

Events

3rd Century China

200

earliest recording of forensic science

before 17th century

1700

guilty person would confess under torture, God would give innocent person strength to resist pain

Carl W. Scheele

1775

Swedish Chemist who devised a test for detecting Arsenic in corpses (inheritance powder)

19th Century Advancements

1800

Medical advancements (allowed MEs to determine cause of 
deaths)

Valentin Ross

1806

discovered more precise 
method for detecting small amounts of Arsenic

Mathieu Orilla 'Father of Forensic Toxicology

1814

published article on detection of poisons and 
effects

Polarized Microscope

1828

allowed for the discovery of more physical 
evidence

Chemical Tests

1839

1st use of toxicological evidence in criminal trial

Irst microscopic

1839

detection of  sperm

Photographs

1850 - 1860

allowed more accurate recording

Chemical Tests

1863

1st presumptive test for blood

Alphonse Bertillon

1879 - 1898

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 
identification for nearly 2 decades

Sherlock Holmes

1887 - 1893

The most influential fictional character created 
by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; his influence 
can be compared to that of the modern CSI shows 
today

Jack the Ripper

1888

London terrorized by a serial killer

Hans Gross

1893

"Criminal Investigation" published; the 1st book of criminal investigation using 
forensic science

Walter McCrone

1900

'Father of Modern Microscopy'

Karl Landsteiner

1901

ABO blood typing discovered

Will West case

1903

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

Ingerprinting

1903

replaced Anthropometry

Albert Osborn

1910

"Questioned Documents" published

Edmond Locard

1913

Locard's Exchange Principle: 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.

Los Angeles PD Crime Lab

1923

the first in USA

University of California at Berkeley Criminalistics Department

1930

led by Dr. Paul Kirk

FBI National Laboratory

1932

opens under Director J. Edgar 
Hoover

FBI Forensic Science Research & Training Center

1981

opens