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Early History

Early History
     When we look at Forensics, we find that it is a very old science.  The Chinese began using Forensics well before any other country.  They were known to use Forensic Entomology (study of insects), fingerprints, and profiling to detect criminals.  One of the most well known cases involves entomology.  Two workers in a rice field get into an argument.  One worker kills the other, pushes the body out of sight, cleans his scythe (curved blade for cutting grasses & rice), and goes back to work.  When a supervisor on the field discovers the body, he calls all the workers to the bank, lines them up, and has them put their scythes on the ground in front of them.  He waits for flies to land on the blade that has blood, knowing that flies are drawn to very small amounts of blood from great distances.  The guilty worker is quickly discovered and arrested.  The witness: a fly.  The Chinese also looked at types of death.  Sung Tzuh wrote a book called the Hsi Duan Yu, "The Washing Away of Wrongs," that looked at medicine to tell the difference between natural and unnatural deaths.  He did this in 1248 and we still refer to this book for young pathologists learning about death.

     France waited their turn.  Francois Demelle published a book looking at handwriting analysis in 1609.  Eugene Francois Vidocq contributed many things to forensics; he is a model to current detectives worldwide.  Vidocq had a shaky start, though.  As a young man of moderately wealthy merchant parents, Vidocq was privileged and bored.  He was a thief who managed to find trouble often.  It really caught up with him, however, when he decided to steal from his parent's bakery.  He went on the run, repeatedly getting in trouble with the law and with young girls' fathers.  He was at one point exiled from France.  He was marked for duels and shotgun weddings on a regular basis until he ended up in jail.  He did, however, turn things around when he became a police informant who helped catch criminals that constantly evaded the police, called the Surete.  He was pardoned from jail and allowed to become an officer.  He was not well liked by his peers, however.  Vidocq found the police methods inefficient.  He changed styles, went undercover, copyrighted paper and ink, updated methods of keeping track of people arrested, and much more.  He did so well in the public eye that he became Chief the the Surete.  Eventually, a portion of Surete managed to pin charges on Vidocq that cost him his position as Chief.  This didn't stop Vidocq.  He opened the first Detective Agency.  He also employed ex-cons, those people who were considered no longer a part of society.  Vidocq was named the "First Detective" because of his success in turning his life abilities into a productive career of catching criminals.   Another French contributor was Mathieu Orfila, a Spaniard, who became known as "the Father of Toxicology" through his studies of poison detection.  He wrote the first toxicology paper and inspired others to look at how poison were used and their effects on the human body system.  Much later, his colleague, James Marsh (an Englishman), traced arsenic in small amounts in human tissue.  He was able to detect samples at 1 millionth of an ounce.  His test led to the first ever murder conviction by poisoning, much to Marie Lafarge's disappointment.  Before Marsh test, men and women alike used arsenic to kill off older brothers, fathers, and husbands or wives.  Arsenic is a tasteless, odorless, colorless poison that produced symptoms similar to the local diseases like cholera, flu, and dysentery.  It was rarely suspected as many travelers often died of similar symptoms.

     Germany looked at the things that China and France were doing and decided to start teaching these methods in their University.

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