Carte-de-visite of Sarah "Sally" Cadwallader Ely shown in three-quarter length portrait. She is seated with her body turned so that her left side is foremost to the camera. Her right arm is propped on a table covered with a floral cloth and her right hand is resting on her right cheek. Her left arm rests in her lap and she is holding a book with her thumb inside the pages and the book partially open. Her hair is parted at the center and then pinned in ringlets on the sides of her head. Her cheeks are tinted pink. She wears a dark colored dress with a high neck, full-length fitted sleeves, a fitted bodice, and a full skirt. The heavily decorative carved back of the chair she is seated in is partially visible behind her. The bottom portion of the image is purposefully faded in the popular style of the time.
Handwritten in graphite at the bottom of the print and onto the mount is the text "1868 / Sally Cadwallader Ely". Printed on the back of the photograph is a mark for H.C. Phillips.
The photograph is housed in the album 2017.30. The album page has a triple-lined, gold border framing the print. Handwritten on the album page in the lower left corner in graphite is the text "H C PHILLIPS".