On October 30th 1936, the Minister for Education Nationale Jean Zay created by decree the Service de Recherche d’Astrophysique (“Astrophysics Research Department”),
made up of an observation station in Haute-Provence and a laboratory for data analysis in Paris. The Comité de Direction du Service (“Steering Committee for the Service”)
presided by Jean Perrin, France’s vice-secretary for Scientific Research, met on November 9th and
decided on January 23rd 1937 that the Parisian lab would be built on the Arago boulevard side
of the Observatoire de Paris campus. On May 1937, the committee organized an
international conference on “light absorption in interstellar space”, and in October, they created
the Annales d’astrophysique (“Astrophysical Annals”). The Service de Recherche d’Astrophysique was first part
of the Caisse Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique (“National Fund for Scientific Research”), then part of the
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS - “National Center for Scientific Research”), when it was created in 1939.
The foundation stone of the CNRS building on the Arago boulevard was laid on January 1938. Henri Mineur was put in charge of the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique (“Astrophysics Laboratory”) in June 19th 1939; it was first hosted within the Observatoire de Paris, then within the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Institut Henri Poincaré. Though construction stopped during the war, the building was finished by 1952 and the CNRS lab became the
Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris. Its observing station will later become independent as the Observatoire de Haute-Provence.