Scope and arrangement
The John Butler Papers consist of correspondence, programs, clippings, photographs, scrapbooks and other professional records. The collection illustrates Butler’s career from his earliest modeling days through his work as a dancer and, ultimately, an important freelance choreographer. There are script outlines for many of Butler’s more famous dance pieces, but no notes on the choreography itself. There is little primary material from Butler’s early life in Mississippi, although those early years are frequently discussed in clippings and transcripts of interviews with Butler. Those transcripts, part of a planned autobiographical project, are quite extensive and provide an in-depth examination of Butler’s career and the people with whom he worked. Most of the material in the collection is of a professional nature, although some of the correspondence with colleagues is personal, or at least touches on personal subjects. Similarly, there are some handwritten diaries of Butler’s in which he shares his views, both artistic and personal.
The John Butler papers are arranged in seven series:
- 1947-1991; Undated1 linear foot [2 boxes]
This series consists of correspondence received by John Butler from individuals as well as representatives of dance companies. Most of the correspondence is professional, but in some cases, the subjects encompass personal matters, as well.
- 1918-19921.25 linear feet [3 boxes]
This series contains contracts and other business material, artwork, script outlines and other professional material. Also included are some personal documents, such as a copy of Butler’s birth certificate. The handwritten diaries and extensive interview transcripts offer a perspective on Butler’s personal and artistic views.
- 1955-1992; Undated1 linear foot [1 box and 8 folders]
This series contains programs of various dance exhibitions, most of them choreographed by John Butler.
- 1945-1992; Undated.5 linear feet [1 box and 2 folders]
This series consists of clippings charting the career of John Butler from his earliest dance appearances, as well as a small sampling of clippings focused on dancer Margie Gillis. The clippings include reviews, interviews, profiles and photographic essays.
- 1942-1986; Undated2.25 linear feet [5 boxes]
This series contains photographs of John Butler alone and with colleagues, posed and candid in rehearsal. There are also photographs of other individuals Butler knew well, including Martha Graham and Andy Warhol. Production photographs chart Butler’s career on stage and on television. There are a limited number of personal photographs, as well.
- c.1920s-19911 linear foot [1 box]
This series consists of three scrapbooks, two of which contain clippings and photographs regarding Butler’s dance and choreography and one of which illustrates his early career as a model.
- 1943-19911 linear foot [2 boxes]
Oversized material primarily consists of photographs, but also includes artwork, clippings, and publicity material.