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.