The crypt was added to the Chapel plans at the same time as the Memorial Chapel. It was intended as a burial place for other members of the Duke family as well as prominent persons identified with the University. 

Buried beneath the floor of the crypt are:

  • William Preston Few, the last president of Trinity College and the first president of Duke University
  • Nanaline Holt Duke, wife of James B. Duke 
  • Julian Deryl Hart, fourth president of Duke University
  • Mary Hart, wife of Julian Deryl Hart
  • Terry Sanford, sixth president of Duke University, Governor of North Carolina, and United States Senator. 

Also interred in the crypt are the ashes of:

  • James A. Thomas, chairman of the Duke Memorial Association, and of 
  • James T. Cleland, former Dean of Duke Chapel
  • Alice M. Cleland, wife of James T. Cleland.

Brass plaques in the crypt memorialize the University’s other deceased presidents, Robert Flowers and Hollis Edens.