(Apologies if this is misplaced or too broad. I'm open to suggestions on how to reformulate it.)
I'm interested in tracing back the "ancient" history of max-flow algorithms, and discrete optimization algorithms in general. Ford-Fulkerson is my straw-man of a starting point. What were the significant advances prior to that? How far back can we go while still being able to make a reasonable argument that somebody was working on max-flow? How about graph algorithms? How about discrete optimization in general?
I'd also be happy to get references to places where this is discussed.