During a recent re-reading of the beta rules, I noticed that while the dwarves add their level as bonus to their skill checks to notice traps, slanting passages, shifting walls and new construction, the elves receive a flat +4 to detect secret doors. Is their any reason why these work different?
Another thing I found interesting is that dwarves and halflings don't get any bonuses to their saving throws vs magic or poison, while elves are immune to sleep and paralysis.
After playing D&D for years, some of these classical racial abilities (infravision, resistances) seem to be natural, and everything that's different seems strange. The only question is, did these have any roots in Appendix N? I didn't read everything from the appendix, but in those rare novels which are on the list and did include demihumans, I don't recall any, which included infravision, halflings being good with slings, dwarves resisting magic easier, elves resisting sleep and charm spells or an elf facing a ghoul.
Did I miss something, or are these mostly the creations of game designers of yore? Can you collect the literary sources of racial abilites?