The papers document the filmmaking career of Mary Ellen Bute and include papers from Expanding Cinema Studios and Ted Nemeth Studios. The collection contains scripts, notes, correspondence, photographs of film productions and of Mary Ellen Bute, and printed material related to the production of many of Bute's films including "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking," "Passages from James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake," and "Skin of Our Teeth." Printed material includes newspaper clippings of reviews and background information, files of images which presumably served as inspiration for images in Bute's films, and other ephemera such as brochures and programs.
The papers span the entirety of Bute's career, though the bulk of them document her later film productions. Since she was unable to complete or release some of these (e.g. "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking") the papers are a unique resource on Bute's work to realize her vision of the films. The papers also provide personal and professional context to Bute's career through her correspondence and personal papers.
The papers also document Bute's research, writing and lectures on the topics of film making and animation and her work to support female film makers through forums such as the Women's Independent Film Exchange.
Material from Bute's early abstract films is mostly related to their distribution and promotion. Papers from later live action films include correspondence, scripts and research material in addition to material related to funding, distribution and promotion. Papers from "Skin of Our Teeth" include correspondence with and notes from Thornton Wilder about the adaptation of his play.
In addition to papers related to Bute's film productions, the collection includes papers from Ted Nemeth Studios. These papers document Nemeth's commercial productions for corporations such as Schlitz, his film "Mobilcolor" (about Charles Dockum, the creator of Mobilcolor projectors) and his work to distribute Bute's films.
The collection also contains personal papers that include family correspondence, photographs and financial and medical records.