This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
Some paper hangers remove old paper from walls by first dampening it with water in which a little baking soda has been dissolved, the surface being then gone over with a "scraper" or other tool. How-over, the principle object of any method is to soften the old paste. This may be readily accomplished by first wetting a section of the old paper with cold or tepid water, using a brush, repeating the wetting until the paper and paste are soaked through, when the paper may easily be pulled off, or, if too tender, may be scraped with any instrument of a chisel form shoved between the paper and the wall. The wall should then be washed with clean water, this operation being materially assisted by wetting the wall ahead of the washing.