Valentina Vassilyeva was a Russian peasant who lived from 1707 to 1782 and reportedly gave birth to an astonishing number of children during her lifetime. The quantity of offspring attributed to her is usually claimed to be 69, a figure that encompasses a whopping
Although some disagreement exists about how many children Valentina birthed, her prolific uterus has been fairly well documented.
The Guinness Book of World Records (which does not necessarily adhere to strict standards for documenting historical claims from centuries past) found the claim plausible enough to name Valentina Vassilyeva as “The World’s Most Prolific Mother”:
Vassilyev, a peasant from Shuya (near Moscow), Russia, gave birth to a total of
69 children,comprising 16 pairsof twins, seven sets of triplets, and four sets of quadruplets. The case was reported to Moscow by the Monastery of Nikolskiy on February 27,1782. Only two of the children born to Mme. Vassilyev in the period c. 1725-65died in infancy.
Regardless of however many children Vassilyeva actually birthed, neither she nor her offspring are pictured in the much-circulated photograph displayed above. This picture, which appeared in an article about polygamy published in the Utah Historical Quarterly, actually shows
Valentina Vassilyeva and her supposed 69 children became associated with the photograph in 2012, when the website
Valentina may hold the title of “The World’s Most Prolific Mother,” but her husband, Feodor Vassilyev, could boast of a even larger parental achievement. The Russian peasant, who had another six sets of twins and two sets of triplets (eighteen in all) with another woman, fathered a grand total of
Clay, Marie. Quadruplets and Higher Multiple Births.
J.B. Lippincott, 1989. ISBN 0632024666.