Birth and schooling
I. F. Stone was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Jewish Russian immigrants who owned a shop in Haddonfield, New Jersey; the journalist and film critic Judy Stone was his sister.
Stone attended Haddonfield High School. He was ranked 49th in his graduating class of 52 students. His career as a journalist began in his second year of high school, when he founded The Progress newspaper. He later worked for the Haddonfield Press and for the Camden Courier-Post. After dropping out of the University of Pennsylvania, where he had studied philosophy, Stone joined The Philadelphia Inquirer, then known as the "Republican Bible of Pennsylvania".
Influenced by the social work of Jack London, Stone became a politically radical journalist, and joined the Philadelphia Record (the morning edition rival of The Philadelphia Inquirer) owned by J. David Stern, a Democrat. Stone later worked for the New York Post newspaper after Stern bought it during the Great Depression (1929). In late adolescence, Stone joined the Socialist Party of America, a political decision influenced by his reading of the works of Karl Marx, Jack London, Peter Kropotkin and Herbert Spencer. Later, he quit the Socialist Party due to the intractable sectarian divisions, ideological and political, that existed among the organizations that constituted the American Left.
During the 1930s Stone was an active member of the communist-dominated Popular Front, which opposed Adolf Hitler and National Socialism. On May 1, 1935, Stone joined the League of American Writers (1935-1943), whose members included Lillian Hellman, Dashiell Hammett,
Frank Folsom, Alexander Trachtenberg, Louis Untermeyer, Myra Page, Millen Brand and Arthur Miller. (Members were largely either Communist Party members or fellow travelers.) However. in late 1939, following the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, he wrote to a friend that he would do "no more fellow traveling" for the U.S.S.R., and used his opinion column in The Nation news magazine to denounce Joseph Stalin as "the Moscow Machiavelli who suddenly found peace as divisible as the Polish plains and marshes".:149
In 1929 Stone married Esther Roisman, who later worked as his assistant at I. F. Stone's Weekly. Their marriage produced three children (Celia, Jeremy and Christopher), and after sixty years ended with his death in 1989.