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Emma Morano - 117 years, 137 days, Italy


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Emma Morano born in 1899 was the eldest of eight siblings including her four younger sisters. She died in 2017 and the details of her validation were published by Jeune and Poulain in 2020 [51]. Birth and marriage certificates were included in the report. The details appear to cover the basic requirements for record keeping to confirm correct dates, although we would like more details about other records found. Were census records checked for example?


There were also interviews with Morano herself and with younger relatives. None of them would have been able to directly corroborate details of her early life since they were born after 1943, but testimonial evidence is still useful.

Her life during her twenties and thirties was not trouble free. Her parents separated and Emma may have been apart from the rest of her family for a short while. She was then forced into an unhappy marriage that soon broke up. Her only child died as an infant.

Four sisters and three of her brothers lived to old age. Angela, the last of Emma’s sisters, is recorded to have died at age 102 when Emma would be 111. Photographs indicate some superficial resemblance between the sisters, but those who knew them would not miss an identity switch unless they became isolated or moved.  Apparently, the testimony of Angela’s daughter and other relatives convinced the validators that any late life swap can be ruled out.  Nevertheless, more confidence would be possible if the validators listed possible switches and why they were excluded.   

A switch in infancy is a possibility which is harder to refute with testimonial evidence. The validators say that they rule out an unrecorded intermediate birth because the recorded births of siblings are all at least 2 years and four months apart. It is entirely possible for births to be a year and two months apart so this logic is not watertight. Perhaps census returns or church records could improve the confidence in the validation. We have no specific reason to think that any potential identity switch scenario is likely for Emma Morano, but insufficient details have been published for us to be absolutely sure.

Apart from these shortcomings, the validation is of a relatively high standard because of the birth records and knowledge of her family history.

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