Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Heinrich (Edward Oscar) Papers
BANC MSS 68/34 c  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (364.59 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Accruals
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Scope and Contents
  • Separated Materials
  • Conditions Governing Use

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: The Bancroft Library
    Title: Edward Oscar Heinrich papers
    creator: Heinrich, Edward Oscar
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 68/34 c
    Physical Description: 144 linear feet (87 cartons, 33 boxes, 25 oversize boxes, 18 cardfile boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1888-1953
    Date (bulk): 1909-1953
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Collection is open for research, with the exception of Series 8 (oversize boxes 18-25 and cardfile boxes 17-18), which is restricted and requires curatorial permission to view.


    No future additions are expected.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    The Edward Oscar Heinrich papers were gifted to The Bancroft Library by Mortimer A. Heinrich on December 7, 1969.

    Biographical / Historical

    Edward Oscar Heinrich was a chemist, consultant, expert witness, businessman, and pioneer in scientific criminology. He operated a private crime lab out of his home at 1001 Oxford Street in Berkeley, California from the 1920s through his death in 1953. In his lab, Heinrich pioneered techniques in scientific crime detection, applying them in a wide array of criminal cases, including forgery and fraud as well as some of the most high profile murder cases of his day.
    Heinrich was born in 1881 in Clintonville, Wisconsin to August Frederick and Albertine Otilie Heinrich. The family moved to Tacoma, Washington around 1889 or 1890. August Frederick committed suicide in 1897, leaving sixteen-year Edward to support his mother and two sisters. Edward left school without a high school diploma and worked as a janitor in a pharmacy. By the age of 18, he had taught himself enough to pass the state pharmacy board examination and become a licensed pharmacist.
    In 1904, Edward applied to study chemistry at the University of California. Initially denied admission because of his lack of a high school diploma, Heinrich travelled to Berkeley and, after petitioning the administration, he was granted entrance to the University as a special status student. He graduated in 1908. While at the University of California, Edward met his future wife, Marion Allen, a native of Salt Lake City. Edward and Marion would have two sons, Theodore and Mortimer.
    After graduation, Edward and Marion moved back to Tacoma, where Edward found work as a chemist for the city. In 1910, he resigned from this post (protesting both the salary and lack of adequate equipment and support) and set out to run his own industrial chemistry lab, still seeking business from the city but also from local breweries and other industries. By 1915, Heinrich was beginning to show interest in lab work relating to crime and during the next few years saw increasing opportunities to apply his chemistry expertise to crime detection and investigation.
    In 1917, Heinrich's laboratory work was interrupted by a shortage of adequate lab supplies after the United States’ entrance into World War I. Heinrich sought out new opportunities and moved his family back to the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1917 and 1918, Heinrich worked as Chief of Police for the city of Alameda. During the same time, Heinrich began teaching during summer sessions in the new Police Science program at the University of California. The brainchild of Berkeley Police Chief August Vollmer, the program sought to professionalize the local police force by providing education in a range of academic subjects, including the emerging field of criminology. Heinrich would teach criminology courses in the University of California Summer Sessions until the mid-1940s.
    In 1918, Heinrich once again relocated his family, taking up the job of City Manager for the city of Boulder, Colorado.
    In early 1919, Heinrich seized the opportunity to resume his lab work by returning to the San Francisco Bay Area to take over the lab of renowned and recently deceased handwriting analyst Theodore A. Kytka. Heinrich would manage a crime lab and a criminology consulting business in the Bay Area for more than 30 years and establish himself as a sought-after criminologist and expert witness.
    Heinrich, whose lab often handled up to thirty cases a month, was a mostly self-taught expert in various fields of criminology, including handwriting analysis, typewriting analysis, and ballistics. He always saw himself as a chemist, first and foremost, and brought his knowledge of microscopy and material science to his work on criminal cases. Heinrich was also a self-taught photographer and used photography extensively in his criminology work.
    The bulk of Heinrich's case load consisted of handwriting analysis cases. His business was built mostly on fraud, forgery, and estate cases. Heinrich's public reputation, however, seems to have been mostly tied to his work on infamous murders and other violent crimes cases, including those of the D'Autremont Brothers, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, and David Lamson.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Edward Oscar Heinrich papers, BANC MSS 68/34 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Lara Michels in 2017-2018.

    Scope and Contents

    The collection consists of eight series: correspondence; personalia; professional materials; case files; press and publicity; subject files; photographs; and selected artifacts/evidence. Materials date from around 1888 through 1953 and document the full range of Edward Oscar Heinrich's professional activities and, to a lesser extent, his education and his family life.
    The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence and professional materials relating to Heinrich's work as a criminologist and consultant in Berkeley, California. Especially noteworthy is the comprehensive collection of case files (1916-1952) from Heinrich's crime lab as well as his work diaries (which provide a day-to-day accounting of Heinrich's appointments and lab activities relating to specific cases). Also noteworthy in the collection are files relating to Heinrich's teaching at the University of California (1917-1943). These files illuminate early thinking about criminology as an academic subject and professional endeavor.
    The collection also contains Heinrich's writings; his newspaper clippings file; materials relating to his work as Chief of Police of Alameda; some materials created during the course of Heinrich's tenure as City Manager of Boulder, Colorado; subject files on topics ranging from chemistry and engineering to policing and criminology; photographs; and some artifactual evidence.

    Separated Materials

    The collection originally included approximately 65 cartons of books and periodicals from Edward Oscar Heinrich's library. Approximately 1200 items were separated from the manuscript collection and cataloged individually. Researchers can search these materials in Oskicat, the University of California, Berkeley's online catalog. The materials can be browsed by searching under the following author: Heinrich, Edward Oscar, 1881-1953, former owner.
    Heinrich's file of photographic negatives was transferred to the Pictorial Collections of the Bancroft Library. One carton of photographic prints was retained in the manuscript collection and there are case file photographs scattered throughout the Case Files series.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Some materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user. All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted to The Bancroft Library. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Heinrich, Edward Oscar--Archives
    Vollmer, August
    Crossman, Edward C. (Edward Cathcart)
    Kidd, A. M. (Alexander Marsden)
    Kaiser, John Boynton
    Arbuckle, Roscoe
    Lamson, David
    Bridges, Harry
    University of California, Berkeley. School of Criminology --Faculty
    University of California. Department of Chemistry
    Criminologists--United States
    Forensic scientists
    Chemistry, technical
    City managers
    Crime laboratories
    Police training
    Police adminstration
    Typewriting -- Identification
    Bullets -- Identification
    Firearms -- Identification
    Firearms -- Catalogs
    Murder -- Investigation
    Homocide investigation
    Anonymous letters -- Investigation
    Women -- Crimes against
    Fraud investigation
    Bank fraud
    Check fraud
    Bombing investigation
    Criminal investigation
    Evidence, criminal
    Forensic sciences
    Extortion investigation
    Legal photography
    Train robberies
    Crime scenes
    Crime -- California
    Crime -- Oregon
    Crime -- Washington (State)
    Finance, Personal