Over the years, Louis Raphael Nardini has emerged as an influential Louisiana historian, specializing in small-town life and the development of the South. He was born in Natchitoches, Louisiana, on February 10, 1914. His parents, Joseph and Elisabeth Nardini, celebrated their family's heritage by affectionately nicknaming him “Beebee,” the phonetic sound of the French word for “baby.”
Nardini grew up in Natchitoches and remained there for most of his life. He attended St. Mary's Academy and graduated from Natchitoches High School. He was an active member of various sports teams, including football and basketball. Nardini afterwards attended Louisiana State Normal College, now Northwestern State University, for one year but had to end his education because of illness and then loss of his parents.
Nardini married Orine Inez Nelson in 1938 and had one son, Louis Raphael Nardini, Jr. He worked as a salesman and joined the Knights of Columbus and Woodmen of the World organizations. He served as historian for Sabine and Natchitoches Parishes. Inspired by his own small-town upbringing, Nardini documented the history of Natchitoches in My Historic Natchitoches, Louisiana and its Environment. He wrote several newspaper articles on the development of Louisiana culture and commerce, including a history of steamboats on the Red River.
After a life of rediscovering local history, Nardini passed away in December 1975.