Historical Timeline (Forensic Science)


Methods before Forensic Science

Approx. 2,000 B.C.E - Approx. 1600 A.D.

People got confessions by torturing suspects, and believed that God would give the suspects the strength to withstand the torture.

First application of Forensic Science

Approx. 3 B.C.E.

Chinese used scientific evidence and research to help solve a murder mystery.

Carl W. Scheele

1775 A.D.

Created test for detecting large amounts of arsenic in dead bodies.

Valentin Ross


Created a test that allowed more accurate method for detecting smaller amounts of arsenic.

Mathieu Orilla


Considered "Father of Forensic Toxicology" published a book for detecting poisons and their effects on the body.

Polarizing Microscope invented


See microscopic bacteria and particles in better detail.

First time toxicological evidence in criminal trial


Would become standard for all criminal trials to the present.

First microscopic detection of sperm



1850 - 1860

Allowed for detectives to not need to remember all the details at a crime scene.

Alphonse Bertillion

1879 - 1903

Created "Bertillon's System" (Anthropometry), which identified people based on the idea that everyone has their own unique body types and structures. Most accurate method for identifying criminals for nearly 20 years.

Sherlock Holmes

1887 - 1893

Fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and was first example of modern "CSI effect."

"Jack the Ripper"


First well known serial killer in Western Society.

Hans Gross


Published "Criminal Investigation," the first book of criminal investigation using forensic science.

ABO Blood Typing


Discovered by Karl Landsteiner and allowed blood types to be used in forensic science.

West Will case


Two different, unrelated criminals had nearly identical body types, and officially ended the Anthropometry.

Albert Osborn


Published book "Questioned Documents."

Edmond Locard


Created Locard's Exchange Principle. This stated that when two different people or objects touch each other, particles only that they have will move to the other person.

Los Angeles PD Crime Lab opens

1923 - Present

This was the first crime lab in the United States.

University of California at Berkeley Crinimalistics

1930 - Present

Originally led by Dr. Paul Kirk, it allows students to study forensic science as a career opportunity.

FBI National Laboratory

1932 - Present

The department opens under J. Edgar Hoover, and now federal investigators can use forensic science.

FBI Forensic Science Research and Training center opens

1981 - Present

Students can train at the FBI for forensic science as a career opportunity.