Recently I made a "discovery" that a monstrous state-wide human resources system has been built in USSR in late 1930-s. It consisted of several million personal dossiers for every communist and for every significant specialist in the country. There claims that staff appointments (down to approx. head of a post office) were produced within days according to data collected from this system. And it appears that every whistle blow in the country somehow was processed and recorded.

Pretty fantastic thing for 1930-s.
I'd like to know how it compares against other similar projects in pre-computer world.
So I have two questions:
1. Greatest databases in the ancient world
2. Any popular book on history of databases (with principles of their work).

My "discovery" is here (sorry it's in russian)