Sarah Knauss

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Sarah Knauss
Knauss in 1979, c. 98–99 years old
Sarah DeRemer Clark

(1880-09-24)September 24, 1880
Died(1999-12-30)December 30, 1999
(aged 119 years, 97 days)[1]
Known for
Abraham Lincoln Knauss
(m. 1901; died 1965)

Sarah DeRemer Knauss (née Clark; September 24, 1880 – December 30, 1999) was an American supercentenarian. She is the oldest person ever from the United States and the second-oldest fully documented person ever, having lived to the age of 119 years and 97 days.


Sarah DeRemer Clark was born on September 24, 1880, to Walter and Amelia Clark[2] in Hollywood, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. She married Abraham Lincoln Knauss (1878-1965) in 1901;[3] Abraham was originally a tanner. He later became a prominent Lehigh County, Pennsylvania Republican leader and the recorder of deeds for this county, serving from 1937 until retiring in 1951. Their only child, Kathryn, was born in 1903 and died in 2005 at the age of 101. Sarah's husband Abraham died in 1965 at 86 years old.[1]

In 1995, Knauss remarked that she enjoyed her life because she still had her health and could "do things."[1] At age 116, Knauss was recognized as being the new United States national longevity record holder, then thought to have been Carrie C. White (reportedly 1874–1991).[1] In 1998, she became the world's oldest person after 117-year-old French Canadian Marie-Louise Meilleur died. Before her death, there were six living generations in her family.[4][5][6]

Knauss holds the record as the oldest documented person from the United States to date,[7] and is the second-oldest fully documented person ever, after French supercentenarian Jeanne Calment. She was recognized as the world's oldest living person by Guinness World Records from April 16, 1998 until her death the next year at the age of 119 years and 97 days.[1][8][9][10][4][11]

Knauss died of natural causes on December 30, 1999,[5] after residing for the final nine years of her life at the Phoebe Home, an affiliation of Harvard[5] in Allentown, Pennsylvania.[1] A staff member at the nursing home described her as "...the friendliest person she had ever met among the home's residents."[12] State senator Charlie Dent, who had attended her 115th birthday party in 1995, said of Knauss, "[she] was an extraordinary woman who pushed the outer limits of longevity. This is a sad occasion, but she certainly had an eventful life."[5] Staff at Phoebe Retirement Home in which she resided stated she had a calm nature and gentle demeanor.[13]

Verification of her age[edit]

The Sarah Knauss case was first investigated by genealogist Edith Rogers Moyer for Phoebe Ministries in 1997.[14] Specifically, Moyer found a 1900 United States census entry for Knauss (then known as Sarah D. Clark) that gave her age as 19 and recorded her year and month of birth as September 1880.[14] In addition, an August 28, 1901 marriage certificate for Sarah Knauss gives her age as 21, which roughly matches with a September 1880 birthday.[14] Sarah Knauss is listed (as Sadie Knauss) as age 29 in the 1910 United States census and (as Sarah Knauss) as age 49 in the 1930 United States census (her 1930 US census entry listed her age at first marriage as 21, matching the information on her 1901 marriage record). These also suggest that her birth date was in September 1880.[14]

A 17-year-old Sarah Knauss in 1897

Later research resulted in the discovery of a US census directory of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, created by Joseph H. Werner in 1891.[2][15] It included the entire 1890 United States census results for Northampton County—including Sarah Knauss and her family, who lived in the town of South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (which became part of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1917). The 1891 directory records that the 1890 US census listed Sarah D. Clark as age 10, which is roughly consistent with a September 1880 birth date.[a] The entire entry for the Clark family in the 1891 directory included 41-year-old Walter Clark, his 33-year-old wife Amelia, their 12-year-old son Charles H., their 10-year-old daughter Sarah D. (later Sarah Knauss), and their 1-year-old son Foster E.[15] This evidence strengthens the case favoring Sarah Knauss having been born in September 1880.

Harvard Medical study[edit]

After her death, Knauss’ major organs were donated to the Harvard Medical School, where they were a part of a study into means of slowing down the aging process and preventing debilitating diseases like Alzheimers. Dr. Marjory Silver, a neuropsychologist and an associate director of the New England Centenarian Study, stated that Mrs. Knauss was the oldest person to participate post-mortem at Harvard.[b] She further stated that it is a major contribution to Harvard which includes DNA studies that could probe the link between genetics and longevity.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The 1890 US census returns were almost completely destroyed in a 1921 fire at the Department of Commerce, but this 1891 US census directory of the 1890 US census results for Northampton County, Pennsylvania has survived.
  2. ^ The oldest-ever recorded person Jeanne Calment did not leave her organs to science.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Merrill, Gary F. (February 3, 2015). Our Aging Bodies. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 9780813575261. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "South Bethlehem 1890 Census". bethlehempaonline. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  3. ^ D., Ron (January 1, 2000). "Sarah's Century". The Morning Call. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "World's Oldest Person Misses Millennium". CNN via WebCite. Retrieved March 23, 2008.
  5. ^ a b c d Devlin, Ron (December 31, 1999). "Sarah Knauss, Oldest Person, Dies at 119". The Morning Call. Retrieved February 18, 2013 – via
  6. ^ Frassinelli, Mike (September 25, 1999). "Mrs. Sarah Knauss, the World's Oldest Person, Turns 119". The Morning Call. Retrieved January 23, 2019 – via
  7. ^ Newton, Christopher (December 31, 1999). "Sarah Knauss, World's Oldest Person, Dies at 119". Athens Banner-Herald. Online Athens. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
  8. ^ "Nothing Fazes Oldest Woman". Associated Press. April 19, 1998. Archived from the original on May 16, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2007.
  9. ^ "World's Oldest Person Dies. She is the Oldest Verified American in History". The Guardian. London, England. January 1, 2000. Retrieved December 9, 2007.
  10. ^ "Sarah Knauss, World's Oldest Person Dies at 119". The Nevada Daily Mail. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Associated Press. December 31, 1999. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  11. ^ Harris, Timothy (2009). Living to 100 and Beyond. Winsted, CT: ACTEX Publications. p. 85. ISBN 978-1566986991. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
  12. ^ Maier, Heiner; Gampe, Jutta; Jeune, Bernard; Robine, Jean-Marie; Vaupel, James W. (2010). Supercentenarians. Berlin: Springer. p. 298. ISBN 9783642115196.
  13. ^ Ron Devlin (February 22, 2000). "Harvard Study Includes the Late Sarah Knauss Goal of Organ Research to Unlock Secrets of People Who Live Long Lives". The Morning Call. Retrieved June 21, 2021.
  14. ^ a b c d Demographics .pdf Download format; retrieved April 2021
  15. ^ a b "South Bethlehem, PA A – C". Archived from the original on September 7, 2008. Retrieved April 1, 2020.

External links[edit]