Minor Martin White was born on July 9, 1908, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. He was the only child of Charles Henry White, a bookkeeper, and Florence May White, a dressmaker. His first name came from his great, great grandfather from the White family side, and his middle name was his mother's maiden name.
During his early years, he spent much of his time with his grandparents. White's parents went through a series of separations starting in 1916, and during those periods Minor White lived with his mother and her parents. His parents reconciled for a while in 1922 and remained together until they divorced in 1929.