My shelves positively groan with the weight of old camping books, particularly North American ones from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Some wonderful stuff in there, along with precisely the sort of cut-and-paste and speculative nonsense we still see today. Most surprisingly to those who've never read them, many of these books strongly advocate as light an outfit as possible; the key difference today (aside from the appearance of a "leave no trace" ethic) is that technological advances have made modern materials lighter and stronger, thus massively reducing the weight of even the lightest kit of old. Still, fascinating to read some of the ingenuity and experimentation, including oiled silk tents with bamboo poles and early designs for backpacks that turn into sleeping bags.
A good modern starter for anyone interested in this sort of book is David Wescott's "Camping in the Old Style" (Gibbs Smith, 2000), a bit anti-technology but it includes excerpts from many of the classics. A few others to hunt for:
"Camp Craft" and "Camping Out" by Warren H. Miller (delightfully pompous in places, but lots of solid material and Miller was quite an innovator in some areas)
"Camp and Trail" and "The Forest" by Stewart Edward White
"Jack-Knife Cookery" by James Austin Wilder ("...a cook-book for boys, written in rollicking, entertaining style...")
"Camp and Trail Methods" and "Woodcraft" by E. H. Kreps
"Camp Kits and Camp Life" by Charles Steadman Hanks
Probably the finest of them all, "Camping and Woodcraft" by Horace Kephart, is still in print. I have others, but that should start even the most eager reader in the right direction :-)