A Woman From 1700s Russia Reportedly Set A World Record That No One Has Broken Yet

The "Guinness Book of World Records" has served as the definitive source for various achievements met by humans and the animal kingdom. Since 1955, the annual reference book has given readers (and prospective record-breakers) a thorough and entertaining list of who or what is considered the "most" or "least" in a varied field of categories (per "The Guinness Book of World Records"). Tallest man ever? Robert Wadlow at 8 feet-11-inches tall (per Guinness). Oldest dog to ever live? A canine in Portugal named Bobi at 30 years, 266 days old (via the New York Post). The highest temperature ever recorded on Earth? 134 degrees Fahrenheit on July 10, 1913, in Death Valley, California (per Guinness).

The "Guinness Book" has served as a way to entertain and inform, as well as serve its initial purpose of settling pub arguments. Over the decades, researchers have dug deep into history to be certain that the records they list in the annual publication are accurate. Revisions and corrections do happen from time to time, as new information is revealed and new records are established. 

One record that has been recorded in the publication will be very difficult, if not impossible to break. For more than 200 years, a woman from Russia (known only as Mrs. Vassilyev) has held onto an accomplishment that most women might think twice about attempting to achieve. To lend a little bit of perspective, this overtaxed lady's record would involve a record number of diapers and baby formula if it were broken today. 

She birthed 69 babies

The woman who has her place in the "Guinness Book of World Records" is referred to as the wife of Russian man Feodor Vassilyev. She is believed to have been born in 1707 and lived to the ripe old age of 76 (per "The Guinness Book of World Records"). During her childbearing years, it has been officially recorded by the reference book that Mrs. Vassilyev gave birth to a stunning number of children. All told, 69 little souls emerged from her womb, perhaps making her also hold the record for the most exhausted woman to ever walk the face of the planet.

Some might be wondering how this is possible. The human gestation period isn't long enough for that many single births, right? Records show, however, that Mrs. Vassilyev never had one instance of a single birth. In fact, she bore multiple children every time her water broke. Guinness revealed that the Monastery of Nikolsk "recorded every birth" and broke down the math behind how one woman could bear so many offspring. 

Mrs. Vassilyev gave birth to a shocking number of twins. Sixteen sets, to be exact. But she wasn't done there. Along with sets of twins came all the sets of triplets, which she gave birth to seven times. Four sets of quadruplets were added to the brood, which totals 69 children altogether.

Is the record set by Mrs. Vassilyeva legitimate?

With such an astounding number of births, it's not surprising that there has been a fair amount of skepticism over the birthing record. To answer those questions surrounding the record's legitimacy, Guinness declares that "numerous contemporaneous sources exist, which suggest that this seemingly improbable and statistically unlikely story is true and she is the woman with most children." Along with the information provided by the Monastery of Nikolsk in 1782, the record book cites a 1783 issue of "The Gentleman's Magazine" that also makes mention of the woman and her children. 

Guinness also points out that of the 69 children that she bore, only two of them "failed to survive their infancy." The publication continues, noting that her husband took a second wife after her death and kept on fathering children. His second wife would give birth to six sets of twins and two sets of triplets, adding an impressive 18 children to his own tally sheet. This means he fathered a combined 87 children, only three of whom died in infancy.