A couple of weeks ago, I praised the usefulness of Google Books for anyone interested in historical documents. Three other sites deserve similar mention:
Cornell University's 907,750 page Making of America collection, "a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. The collection is particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. This site provides access to 267 monograph volumes and over 100,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints."
The Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum, which has numerous photos, maps, essays, and (scroll down on the main page for a list) a wonderful collection of digitized contemporary articles on the building of the transcontinental railroad and its times, and then links to further documents etc.
The relevance to a website concerned with telecom, innovation, and intellectual property? -- The issues at the center of contemporary debates are not new. If a contemporary tech or telecom tycoon sat down with the Big Four of the Central Pacific, they would quickly find many common issues to discuss (including how to deal with a rapacious political system).
Business and economic history receive too little attention. Judge Harold Leventhal, an administrative law expert of a generation ago, once said "[This] is the kind of issue where a month of experience will be worth a year of hearings." Our society has generations of experience with many regulatory issues, but this resource is simply not brought to bear on present issues. It is easier, and more profitable for the lawyers, to hold hearings and opine about theory.