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10 Oldest People to Ever Live

A black and white photo of Jeanne Calment.

10 Oldest People to Ever Live

As modern medicine advances, it’s easier for people to stay alive for long periods. Thus, we’re seeing a huge boom in centenarians and supercentenarians. However, even amongst centenarians, few can claim that they are one of the oldest people who ever lived. To claim that title, you have to live an exceptionally long time. The oldest person to ever live was 122 years and 164 days old when she passed. Even most supercentenarians don’t get close to that number! There’s also a difference between a verified supercentenarian and an alleged one. Verified supercentenarians need to provide irrefutable proof that they were alive as long as they say they have been. Let’s take a look at the verified oldest people who ever lived. 

Jeanne Calment (122 Years, 164 Days)

A black and white photo of Jeanne Calment.
A resident of France, Jeanne Calment was 122 years and 164 days old when she died.

The oldest verified person who ever lived was Jeanne Calment of France (1875-1997), who lived to be 122 years and 164 days old. She is the only person in the world ever verified to have lived at least 120 years. She outlived both her daughter and her grandson. Her longevity attracted widespread media attention as researchers began analyzing her lifestyle and habits to determine how she lived so long.

Kane Tanaka (119 Years, 107 Days)

A black and white picture of Kane Tanaka.
Kane Tanaka lived to be over 119 years old.

The second oldest person who ever lived was Kane Tanaka (1903-2022), who took over the title of oldest living person from Chiyo Miyako, who is later on our list, when she passed. Tanaka is the oldest Japanese person to ever live. She said her parents misreported her date of birth and delayed filing the paperwork regarding it because she was born prematurely and they were not sure if she would survive.

Sarah Knauss (119 Years, 97 Days)

A black and white picture of Sarah Knauss.
Sarah Knauss is the oldest verified American person ever.

The oldest verified American person, Sarah DeRemer Knauss (1880-1999) has many accolades to her name. She is also the third oldest well-documented person and the only person in the United States to reach 118 and 119. Her birthdate has been independently verified using several instances of census data. Knauss lived to be 119 years and 97 days old. She was the third daughter of German immigrants in Pennsylvania, where she lived until her death in 1999.

Lucile Randon (118 Years, 340 Days)

A black and white photo of Lucile Randon.
As a teacher, nun, missionary, and governess, Lucile Randon was busy until she retired at 75.

Also known as Sister André, Lucile Randon (1904-2023) of France was the oldest living person following the death of Kane Tanaka. She lived to be 118 years and 340 days old before passing. In her life, she was a teacher, nun, governess, and missionary. She was the oldest documented survivor of SARS-CoV-2; she tested positive for COVID just a month before her 117th birthday.

Nabi Tajima (117 Years, 260 Days)

A black and white photo of Nabi Tajima and her mother.
Tajima was the oldest living person for seven months and the last verified person born in the 19th century.

Nabi Tajima (1990-2018) of Japan was the oldest living person following the death of Violet Brown, whose story is later on this list. Tajima passed away seven months after taking the title of the oldest living person and was the last verified person born in the 19th century. She was 117 years and 260 days old when she passed.

Marie-Louise Fébronie Meilleur (117 Years, 230 Days)

A black and white picture of Marie-Louise Meilleur.
Marie-Louise Meilleur is the oldest Canadian person to ever live.

Marie-Louise Meilleur (1880-1998) is the oldest Canadian person ever and became the oldest recognized person following the death of Jeanne Calment, the oldest person to ever live. She was a vegetarian and claimed that the secret to a long life was hard work. She had 12 children, but only four of her children survived her.

Violet Brown (117 Years, 189 Days)

A black and white photo of Violet Brown
Violet Brown lived to be 177 years and 189 days old.

Born in Jamaica, Violet Brown (1900-2017) was briefly the oldest living person, following the death of Emma Morano, next on our list. She survived Morano for five months before passing herself. Along with Nabi Tajima, she was one of the last surviving people born in the 19th century. She is also currently the title holder for the oldest person ever in Jamaica.

Emma Morano-Martinuzzi (117 Years, 137 Days)

A black and white photo of Emma Morano
Emma Morano-Martinuzzi is the third oldest European who ever lived.

Nowadays, Italy is home to some 20,000 centenarians. However, supercentenarians who fall into the category of the oldest people to ever live like Emma Morano-Martinuzzi (1899-2017) are much rarer, even in Italy. Morano-Martinuzzi is the oldest Italian person to ever live and the third oldest European to ever live. She was 117 years and 137 days old when she passed.

Chiyo Miyako (117 Years, 81 Days)

oldest living people
The third Japanese person to reach the age of 117 years old, Chiyo Miyako (right) was known for being patient and enjoying calligraphy.

After Nabi Tajima’s death, Chiyo Miyako (1901-2018) became the oldest person in Japan and also worldwide. She was the 8th verified person to reach the age of 117 years old and the 3rd Japanese person to do so, after Nabi Tajima and Misao Okawa (not on this list). Miyako was succeeded by Kane Tanaka, previously on our list. Guinness World Records also verified Miyako as the oldest surgery patient ever, undergoing surgery at 116 years and 6 days.

Delphia Welford (117 Years, 66 Days)

A color photo of Delphia Welford and her great-great-granddaughter.
Following a posthumous verification, Delphia Welford’s case was presented at the World Supercentenarian Forum seminar in 2023.

Delphia Welford (1875-1992) claimed to be born in 1881, but research completed by the Gerontology Research Group in 2023 determined she was born in 1875. She lived to be 117 years and 66 days old before her passing in 1992. Her case was originally a Social Security study. A post-humous case validation of her age was presented at the World Supercentenarian Forum seminar in Paris in 2023. Welford is one of just two (along with Sarah Knauss) validated people to attain the age of 117 in the United States.

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