Dr. Anna Porter Burrell was born in 1902. She graduated from high school and a two-year Normal School before completing a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1923. Dr. Burrell's teaching career in higher education began at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, where she taught chemistry from 1923-25.
In 1945, Dr. Burrell enrolled in the doctoral program in psychology and human relations at New York University. Dr. Burrell came to Buffalo to teach at Buffalo State College in 1948. She was the first African American faculty member to be hired by the College. Her husband, Robert was an attorney in the Buffalo District Attorney's office. He later became a City Court Judge. Dr. Burrell's interest in child development, human relations and international education led to her involvement in education in the country of India. In 1959, she received a Fulbright Fellowship at Jabalpu University in India. This was followed by an appointment to the post of Director of the India Project at Buffalo State that resulted in several trips with students, in 1968-69 and 1970-71, to study the educational system and culture of that country. She was also the College's Director of Human Relations Workshops. Dr. Burrell retired from Buffalo State in 1972.