The first documented photographs in America were taken in the spring of 1839 by enthusiastic experimenters after studying recently arrived publications from England, detailing William Henry Fox Talbot's instructions for making photogenic drawings. The images have not survived, but meaning can nevertheless be found in the circumstances surrounding their production and disappearance.
"Faded but Not Forgotten: Thinking about the Records and Relics of America's Earliest Forays in Photography,"
Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies: Vol. 2
, Article 1.
Available at: http://elischolar.library.yale.edu/jcas/vol2/iss2/1