A great place to start is R. Kingslake's "History of the Photographic Lens", which makes a great read but is, unfortunately, an absurdly expensive book (~$75). View Camera had a series of articles "History of Lens Design" in four parts by Lynn Davis which was quite useful. I think these are available in PDF format (or were) on a CD which could be purchased from View Camera.
For specific lenses, the The Lens Collectors Vade Mecum provides diagram.
Bostick and Sullivan have a selective list of lenses which includes number of elements and groups.